French outsider Iliad, headed by Xavier Niel, is threatening to become part of the mainstream, having attracted 11.7 million mobile subscribers, equivalent to a market share of 17 per cent, by the end of 2015.

CFO Thomas Reynaud also commented about the merger talks between rivals Orange and Bouygues Telecom. “They are complex on operational and industrial aspects,” he said. His comments were reported by Reuters.

According to the operator’s full-year results, revenue from its mobile operations grew by 13 per cent to €1.83 billion, with service revenue jumping 19 per cent during the year.

The performance of the mobile business pushed the whole group’s revenue up by 6 per cent to €4.4 billion. Revenue growth from Iliad’s fixed broadband business was significantly slower than mobile at 1.3 per cent.

A higher value subscriber mix contributed to the higher service revenue. The company pointed to more new subscribers taking up its €20 a month offer.

The number of 4G subscribers grew steeply to 3.7 million by end-2015 compared to 1.7 million a year earlier. And average 4G subscriber data usage has increased to 3.2GB per month from 1.8GB a year earlier.

In terms of outlook, Iliad said it would deploy more than 1,500 sites in 2016. And it wants to reach 4G coverage of about 75 per cent of the French population by the end of the year. The long term aim is for a 25 per cent market share.

Group profit in 2015 was €335 million, up 20 per cent.