The bidding process for France’s long-awaited fourth 3G license was launched by the country’s government on Saturday, with an asking price of EUR240 million. AFP reports that the deadline for candidates to lodge their bids has been fixed at 29 October, with the granting of the license around eight months from that date. Iliad, parent company of French ISP Free, was quick to welcome launch of the bidding process and said it would be a candidate. Orascom, Virgin Mobile France and Numericable have also been linked to the license.

The EUR240 million asking price is confirmation of earlier reports suggesting the price would be increased from previous estimates of EUR206 million. The original price of EUR206 million was a third of the amount paid by incumbents Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom for their licenses, which came with three times as much spectrum. However, France Telecom (Orange) has said it will contest the price with the European Commission as it feels EUR240 million is still too low.