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Extension of the roaming agreement between Free and Orange

On October 23rd, the Arcep validated an amendment to the roaming contract that already bound the two operators. Free will thus be able to use Orange's 2G and 3G networks for its own commercial offers until December 31, 2022 instead of December 31, 2020. This is despite criticism from SFR, Bouygues Telecom or other alternative operators grouped within the Alternative Telecom association.


To justify its delay in deploying its own 2G and 3G infrastructures, the operator founded by Xavier Niel denounced the mutualization of networks signed in 2014 by Bouygues Telecom and SFR, the reinforced 4G deployment obligations imposed by the New Mobile Deal, and the lack of frequencies.

This argument hit the nail on the head with the Arcep, which nevertheless maintained the cap on the maximum upload and download speeds achievable by roaming customers at 384 kbits.


Even if the Arcep assures that it will "remain attentive to the continued investment by Free Mobile in the deployment of its own networks", this is not enough to calm the criticism of those opposed to this extension.

Starting with the management of SFR, for whom "ten years after obtaining its 3G license, this roaming agreement granted to Free Mobile is only the admission of a crying lack of investment by Free Mobile during all these years".

For its part, Bouygues Telecom points out that "roaming was designed from the outset as a transitional measure, with the sole aim of enabling the new entrant to compensate for its late entry into the market". However, "Free can no longer be described as a new entrant in the mobile telephony market" and "now has a network that is broadly comparable to that of its competitors, and therefore quite sufficient to enable it to compete vigorously" in the mobile market."

Alternative operators point out that the license granted to Free Mobile by the authorities was awarded "in exchange for ambitious commitments to stimulate competition".


These criticisms did not prevent the extension of the roaming agreement between Free and Orange. Even if Free's management is now tending to catch up in terms of deployment, it is not certain that this will be enough to calm the slings and arrows of its competitors. Especially since the recent statements of Orange's CEO concerning a possible mutualization of the two operators' 5G networks should not help to pacify the debate.



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Source : ZDNet




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