EC approves fourth French mobile network licence price

The European Commission has approves to French telecom regulator Arcep’s award of the country’s fourth 3G mobile network licence to Free Mobile, a division of telecom group Iliad.

The EC’s competition department rejected a complaint from Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom, finding that the licensing process did not involve state aid as defined by EU rules.

The incumbent mobile carriers had argued that the licence’s US$345.84 million pricetag was unfair, as they had paid US$891.95 million for theirs at the turn of the 21st century.

The EC found the procedure to be transparent and not distrortive to competition. Orange and SFR, the first two operators to be awarded mobile network licences in France, paid US$7 billion initially, but obtained a reduction to match the price paid for the third licence, which went to Bouygues Telecom.

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