Virgin Mobile France has confirmed it is studying possibilities to bid for the country’s fourth 3G license, including potential partnerships. “We are looking at the dossier,” said Virgin Mobile secretary general Philippe Maugest, according to a Reuters report. “We are looking at it very closely… We are looking at it in a very favourable manner.” Dow Jones Newswires also quoted Maugest as stating that “Virgin Mobile is still talking with [cable operator] Numericable about the possibility to launch a joint bid,” adding that the company was discussing the subject with “a lot of people” in France and abroad.
Last month it was reported that the price of France’s long-awaited fourth 3G network license is likely to be EUR240 million, up from previous estimates of EUR206 million. The French government is expected to start the process before the end of July, with the new operator to be selected in the first quarter of 2010. The original price of EUR206 million was a third of the amount paid by Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom for their licenses, which came with three times as much spectrum. A leading contender for the license is thought to be French broadband provider Iliad, which has previously said it will invest EUR1 billion to build a network covering 90 percent of the country’s population if it wins the license. The French government is keen to issue further 3G licenses in order to boost competition in its domestic 3G market, which remains dominated by just three operators. An attempt in 2007 to auction the fourth license was abandoned after it generated just one bid – from Iliad subsidiary Free Mobile – that was deemed too low.