Free Mobile

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Free Mobile
Type SAS
(subsidiary of Iliad)
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 24 July 2007 (2007-07-24)
Founders Xavier Niel
Headquarters Paris, France
Area served France
Key people Xavier Niel
Maxime Lombardini
Rani Assaf
Antoine Levavasseur
Owners Iliad
Employees 1,638 (as of January 2012)
Parent Free

Free Mobile is a French mobile broadband company, part of the Iliad group, that provides wireless services to 9 million subscribers as of August 2014.[1] It is the fourth mobile network company to obtain a metropolitan French national 3G license and was granted in 2011 a 4G license in the 2.6 GHz frequency band.


3G license[edit]

The first 3G licenses were awarded to France Telecom (now Orange) in 2000, SFR in 2000 and Bouygues Telecom in 2002. Free Mobile application has been agreed by French regulatory authority ARCEP on 17 December 2009.[2] The license price is 240 million euros [3] for two 5 MHz duplex bands in the 2100 MHz and 900 MHz frequency bands.

Roaming agreement[edit]

Free Mobile signed a 2G and 3G roaming agreement with Orange on 3 March 2011.[4] 100% of the 2G traffic will go through Orange's network as Free Mobile has no 2G license.

Network deployment[edit]

Free Mobile has for legal obligation to cover 27% of the French population by January 2012, 75% by January 2015 and 90% by January 2018.

Free Mobile was already covering 30% of the French population in November 2011.[5] A 3G roaming agreement with Orange enables communications channeled through Orange's network, which covers about 98% [6] of the French metropolitan population according to ARCEP.

Free Mobile was covering 37.3% of the French population in July 2012.[7] Xavier Niel announced its network was covering 50% in January 2013.[8]

An estimated 16,000 antennas, depending on the frequencies, are required to cover the whole French metropolitan area. Free Mobile operates roughly 5,000 antennas as of November 2014.[9]

Service launch[edit]

ARCEP confirmed that Free covers enough of the country to open commercially and start using its roaming agreement with Orange. For the few first years Free will pay Orange to get a full national coverage, for the roaming license agreement as it arrived late to the mobile market.

Free Mobile launched its two offers on 10 January 2012.[10] Both offers are without commitment and without subsidized phones.

4G license[edit]

Free Mobile obtained a 4G license on 22 September 2011 for 271 million euros [11] for a duplex 20 MHz band in the 2600 MHz frequency band. It failed to obtain further bands in the 800 MHz frequency band.[12]

4G launch[edit]

Xavier Niel announced on his Twitter account the availability of the 4G on 3 December 2013.[13] 4G was added, at no additional cost, to the current commercial packages.


Free Mobile launched its two offers on 10 January 2012. The number of customers rose quickly in Q1 2012 and again in Q4 2012, after Free Mobile upgraded its €2.00 offer (from one hour/60 SMS to two hours/unlimited SMS) on 6 December 2012.

Number of customers
Date Customers
End of Q1 2012
End of Q2 2012
End of Q3 2012
End of Q4 2012
5,205,000(8% market share)
End of Q1 2013
End of Q2 2013
End of Q3 2013
End of Q4 2013
8,040,000(12% market share)
End of Q1 2014
End of Q2 2014
End of Q3 2014

Free Mobile reached 5,205,000 customers, an 8% market share, in its first year. [14] (Compared to 27.0 millions mobile customers for Orange, 20.7 millions for SFR and 11.3 millions for Bouygues Télécom.) [15]

Free Mobile currently holds a 14% market share. Its medium-term goal (2014/2015) is a 15% market share and its long-term goal is 25%.


An "unlimited" mobile phone package for €19.99 with calls included to 100 countries, texts, multimedia messages and internet. The price will be reduced to only €15.99 for those who already use Free for home internet. There will be no obligation to sign up for a set period.[16]

Another package for €2.00 with two hours of calls and unlimited SMS that will be free to people who use Free for home internet.

See also[edit]