France’s Bouygues Telecom has launched its LTE-Advanced network in seven cities, just a few days after announcing that it will cut 1,500 jobs from its workforce.
The operator’s strategy is to continue investment in 4G despite the pain it is feeling in the county’s ultra-competitive mobile market, which led to last week’s decision to axe 15 per cent of its 9,000 workforce.
Various attempts by Bouygues – most recently with Iliad and Orange – to consolidate the market and stabilise competition have so far failed.
But the company is still pushing hard on LTE-Advanced – it claims to be the first in the country to offer it. The service is ready in Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Malakoff and Rosny-sous-Bois from today. The technology will become available in the 16 largest cities of France in September.
Arnaud Montebourg, France’s economy minister, is desperate to avoid widespread job losses. He has backed a reduction in the number of operators from four to three as an alternative to redundancies.
Bouygues hopes the extra speeds offered by LTE-Advanced will draw in more high-spending customers. It can now offer theoretical peak speeds up to 220Mb/s.
The network is ready today but the operator will offer a LTE-Advanced terminal for corporate customers from 1 July. In addition, Bouygues will next month offer a hotspot to consumers based on the technology.
The first smartphones compatible with LTE-Advanced will be available from September, in time for widespread availability in leading cities.
The operator is also looking to improve the urban coverage of its existing 4G network by expanding the capacity used in the 1800 frequency band from 10 MHz to 15 MHz.