Free CEO Thomas Reynaud today revealed that the telecom operator may select Finland’s Nokia for the deployment of its 5G network.
French telecoms operator Free, a subsidiary of Iliad, has not been authorised by the government to roll out mobile gear manufactured by China’s Huawei.
Local rivals Bouygues Telecom and SFR are able to use telecom network supplied by Huawei.
“This breach of equal treatment is problematic,” Free CEO Thomas Reynaud told a press conference on Thursday after Iliad published its first-half results.
Capital expenditure for France (excluding payments for spectrum) totalled €622 million, reflecting the expansion of the Group’s Fiber and Mobile networks and Fiber subscriber connections, and higher capital spending related to the launch of the new Freebox and the large-scale switch-on of 700 MHz-compatible equipment.
Free focused on the deployment of 700 MHz and rollouts to enhance the 4G experience in France. Free added more than 3,600 sites to use 700 MHz frequencies since the beginning of the year and almost 94 percent of our 4G sites now emit on this frequency band.
Free kept up its brisk pace of new mobile site rollouts, with 1,840 new sites added in first-half 2020 despite the difficulties encountered during lockdown. At end-June 2020, the Group had over 18,200 sites in Metropolitan France (nearly 16,700 4G sites). Its mobile network now covers 98.2 percent of the French population with 3G, and the 4G coverage rate is 97.3 percent.
The total fixed subscriber base rose by 112,000 during the period, with a 65,000 increase in the second-quarter – the best performance in the last four years. For the first time in seven years, the Group returned to the number one position in terms of quarterly new subscribers for the fixed business.
Free added 458,000 new subscribers for the Group’s Fiber plans in first-half of 2020, with 243,000 in the second quarter, giving Free the highest number of FTTH net adds in France for the fifth quarter in a row.
At end-June 2020, the Fiber subscriber base totaled 2.22 million, representing a rise of 70 percent in the space of 12 months, with the penetration rate among the overall subscriber base rising 13 points year on year to 33.7 percent. The objective of having 2 million fiber subscribers in 2020 was already reached by May, and the Group is ahead of schedule for the target set in its Odyssey 2024 plan of having at least 4.5 million Fiber subscribers in 2024.
It added 205,000 subscribers for the Group’s 4G offerings, including 105,000 in the second quarter, pushing the total 4G subscriber base up to almost 8.4 million at end-June. Mobile ARPU invoiced to subscribers rose 3.3 percent year on year to an average of €10.2 in the second quarter of 2020.