Xavier Niel defends Free Mobile impact on French telecoms

19 March 2013 | Mitch Sayers


Free Mobile founder Xavier Niel has defended the operator’s business model after coming under scrutiny from rivals in France’s highly competitive telecoms market.

Vivendi’s SFR and Bouygues, Free Mobile’s main rivals, have criticised the low-cost business model, saying they have had to cut jobs because of the ongoing price war in the country.

Iliad, Free Mobile’s holding company, has defended its practises, claiming that they had invested €950m in France last year and created a thousand jobs.

Regulators in France have recently confirmed that Free Mobile’s use of France Telecom’s network should end in 2018 – with a view to the operator putting more of its efforts into building its own network.

Iliad, which has more than five million subscribers, pays France Telecom €500-€700 million a year under the present deal and has rapidly grown since its entry into the market in January 2012.

Niel has a track record for challenging rivals with low cost packages for customers and launched a competitive French internet service provider in 1999.