(subsidiary of Iliad)
|Founded||24 July 2007|
Number of employees
|1,638 (as of January 2012)|
Free Mobile is a French wireless service provider, part of the Iliad group. It was the fourth mobile network operator to obtain a metropolitan French 3G license in 2009. It also obtained a 4G license in 2011.
Free Mobile provides wireless services to 13.535 million subscribers as of September 2018.
- 1 History
- 2 Customers
- 3 Frequency bands
- 4 See also
- 5 References
3G license (900 MHz and 2100 MHz)
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. The license price is 240 million euros  for two 5 MHz duplex bands in the 900 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands.
Free Mobile signed a 2G and 3G roaming agreement with Orange on 3 March 2011. It will run until the end of 2020. 100% of the 2G traffic will go through Orange's network as Free Mobile has no 2G license.
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. A 3G roaming agreement with Orange enables communications channeled through Orange's network, which covers about 98%  of the French metropolitan population according to ARCEP.
Free Mobile was covering 37.3% of the French population in July 2012. Xavier Niel announced its network was covering 50% in January 2013. ARCEP confirmed that Free Mobile covered 78% of the population in January 2015.
An estimated 18,000 antennas, depending on the frequencies, are required to cover the whole French metropolitan area. Free Mobile operates roughly 14,100 3G antennas and 11,600 4G antennas as of November 2018.
Number of 3G and 4G antennas in service (Source ANFR):
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. Both offers are without commitment and without subsidized phones.
4G license (2600 MHz)
Free Mobile obtained a 4G license on 22 September 2011 for 271 million euros  for a duplex 20 MHz band in the 2600 MHz frequency band. It failed to obtain further bands in the 800 MHz frequency band.
Additional 4G frequency bands (1800 MHz)
Free Mobile has been granted 15 MHz duplex bands in the 1800 MHz frequency band to balance with the licenses offered for free in this band to the other operators back in early 2000s. 5 MHz have been available between January and June 2015 and the remaining 10 MHz will be on the 25 May 2016.
Additional 4G frequency bands (700 MHz)
The auction for the 700 MHz frequency band started on 16 November 2015. Initial bidding price was set at 416 million euros per 5 MHz duplex band. Six bands were for sale. The auction ended on 17 November 2015. Free mobile bought two bands (10Mhz duplex) at 466 million euros (932 million euros).
3G data roaming throttling
Free Mobile announced covering 85% of the population in 3G as of 1 July 2016. 3G data roaming throttling will be applied on Orange network:
|Start date||Download limit||Upload limit|
|09/2016||5 Mbit/s||448 kbit/s|
|01/2017||1 Mbit/s||448 kbit/s|
|01/2019||768 kbit/s||384 kbit/s|
|01/2020||384 kbit/s||384 kbit/s|
French overseas departments
Free Mobile was awarded frequencies in several French overseas departments and territories on 13 October 2016. Including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Barthelemy and Saint-Martin.
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 (Source Iliad):
- Quarter gain
- Quarter loss
Free Mobile reached 5,205,000 customers, an 8% market share, in its first year.  (Compared to 27.0 millions mobile customers for Orange, 20.7 millions for SFR and 11.3 millions for Bouygues Télécom.) 
Free Mobile currently holds a 19% market share. Its long-term goal is a 25% market share.
Free Mobile uses the following frequency bands:
|Frequency bands||Technology||Band length|
|700 MHz||LTE||10 MHz duplex|
|900 MHz||UMTS||5 MHz duplex|
|1800 MHz||LTE||15 MHz duplex|
|2100 MHz||UMTS||5 MHz duplex|
|2600 MHz||LTE||20 MHz duplex|
- "ARCEP accepts Free Mobile's application". ARCEP. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
- "Iliad To Be France's Fourth Mobile Operator". The Wall Street Journal. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2010.[dead link]
- Free Mobile and Orange sign a 2G roaming agreement and agree to extend this to 3G networks
- "Free mobile network coverage in November 2011". PCInpact. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- "Couverture 3G 2011 en France". PCImpact. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- (in French)Free Mobile couvrait 37,3 % de la population au 1er juillet 2012
- (in French)Free Mobile couvre 50 % de la population en 3G et parle de l'itinérance en 4G
- (in French)Free Mobile couvre 78% de la population en 3G, l'Arcep confirme.
- (in French)anfr.fr
- (in French)ANFR Les résultats de l'Observatoire
- Iliad launches mobile service with aggressive offers
- (in French)4G : les fréquences de Free, Orange, Bouygues et SFR dévoilées
- Bande 800 MHz (4G) : SFR obtient deux blocs, Free Mobile aucun
- Xavier Niel [@Xavier75] (3 December 2013). "#FreeMobile €19.99/m: #4G 20GB ! 4G4U :-)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- (in French)1800 MHz : l’ARCEP attribue à Free Mobile un bloc de 5 MHz
- Iliad Financial Press releases
- 2012: Free revolutionises mobile telephony - Group posts record growth
- (in French)Abonnés Free mobile: 5,2 millions de clients un an après le lancement