France’s Authority of Regulation for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep) has agreed to an extension of the national roaming agreement between Free Mobile and Orange. Their 2G and 3G roaming deal was signed in 2011 and is set to expire on 31 December this year. The regulator has now approved an extension to 31 December 2025. More news about Free Mobile and Orange roaming services find out below.
The sector regulator, ARCEP, indicates that it received a new amendment during the summer extending the 2G and 3G roaming contract concluded between Orange and Free for an additional three years. Obviously, the news should not be greeted with a smile on the side of Bouygues Telecom and SFR, which had attacked this same roaming contract before the Council of State, before being dismissed at the end of last year by the jurisdiction administration.
2G/3G roaming between Orange and Free Mobile: a contract in force for more than a decade
Although known to be the best enemies, Orange and Free always seem to be good friends on the subject of roaming. While the contract that unites them officially comes to an end on December 31, 2022, the two operators sent ARCEP, on July 27, a letter containing a new amendment to the contract.
Orange and Free have in fact extended the roaming contract concluded in 2011 and in force since 2012 by three additional years, i.e. until December 31, 2025. The Electronic Communications Regulatory Authority does not say anything about its intentions but indicates to review this addendum today.
Remember that this 2G and 3G roaming contract allows Free Mobile subscribers who live in areas that are not covered by the operator’s network to benefit from a minimum mobile connection, then distributed by Orange. And this, we said, for ten years.
A cap on very low speeds maintained in 2023, 2024 and 2025
If until 1er January 2020 the downlink rate (download) could not exceed 768 Kbit/s, it has since been limited, both downlink and uplink (upload), at 384 Kbps. This reduction in speed was the major point of the negotiations carried out by the operators with ARCEP during the extension of the contract in early 2020. Free Mobile and Orange roaming
Why limit the flow? Because on the one hand, ARCEP adopted in 2016 guidelines on mobile network sharing agreements that it wants to enforce, and on the other hand because following these directives, Orange and Free Mobile had agreed to phase out roaming at the end of 2022.
The roaming extension amendment until 2025 provides for a cap on upload and download speeds of 384 Kbit/s in 2023, 2024 and 2025, but also the absence of an increase in the capacity of the interconnection links between the core network of Free Mobile and that of Orange, for the flow of total roaming traffic.
The two operators have also set up a financial mechanism, for the period 2023-2025, to encourage them to reduce the number of Free Mobile customers using the Orange 2G/3G network. An element obviously intended to convince ARCEP, which examines the endorsement, informing in passing, in compliance with business law, the two competitors SFR and Bouygues Telecom.