French broadband provider Iliad appears confident of winning the country’s fourth 3G license, with a Dow Jones Newswires report noting that the company states it will need to invest a maximum of EUR1 billion to set up the network, covering 90 percent of the population. The report adds Iliad said it is willing to pay around EUR210 million for the license, which it is hoping to receive in the fourth quarter of this year. Meanwhile, a Financial Times report notes that Iliad will generate EUR300 million in free cash flow in 2009, up from EUR210 million last year, giving it the financial “strike force” to invest in a mobile operation.

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: France Telecom’s Orange, SFR and Bouygues. An attempt in 2007 to auction the fourth license was abandoned after Arcep, the French regulator, received just one bid – from Iliad subsidiary Free Mobile – that it deemed was too low. Iliad remains the only declared candidate interested in the new license.