Iliad’s Free Mobile network has reached the level of 3G coverage it had committed to achieve by 12 January 2012 as it prepares to become France’s fourth national operator. French telecoms regulator Arcep announced that Free Mobile reported on 10 November that its 3G network covered more than 27 percent of the population, satisfying a 25 percent obligation set by Arcep as part of Free Mobile’s 3G licence conditions.
By reaching the coverage level agreed with Arcep, Free Mobile is now permitted to roam on other operator networks, meaning it can offer a national service when it launches on or before 12 January next year.
Arcep verified Free Mobile’s coverage map during November and December using field measurements and calculations based on figures from a database of population geolocated at building level.
According to Wireless Intelligence data, France currently has 62.6 million mobile connections, of which 25.5 million are using 3G services. There are currently three operators, namely France Telecom (Orange France), SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
Arcep announced in September that its auction of spectrum for future 4G services raised nearly EUR1 billion with all three incumbent operators and Free Mobile securing chunks of the 2.6GHz spectrum band.