After Bouygues made a formal request to convert its 1800MHz 2G network into 4G in order to have a iPhone 5 compatible 4G network (the only one), a relatively quick and inexpensive process, Bouygues has been patiently awaiting the TelCo regulatory committee (ARCEP)’s response, which was expected to come in the beginning of 2013. In recent days, ARCEP has heard from the other carriers, and, frankly, they’re trying to ClockBlock Bouygues. Because Orange’s networks are tied up in its 1 Billion € Free Mobile contract, SFR is still recovering from its losses, and Free Mobile can’t even get a 3G network up, Bouygues may potentially recover its 2012 losses by being first to roll out an iPhone 5 compatible 4G network in France.
This week, however, Xavier Niel, CEO of Iliad, the parent company of Free Mobile, took it as far as he tends to take it (that is, too far), saying that should Bouygues get permission to build their network, Free Mobile may have to fire – wait for it – 2,500 employees. This is more than Bouygues and SFR have let off combined since Free Mobile’s launch (~1000), and frankly, it’s employee blackmail(fr – Silicon.fr).
Bouygues has been badly hurt by Free Mobile’s entrance, which undercut their mobile prices drastically and attacked them directly. While Free Mobile claims that Bouygues has an unfair advantage and that other operators have invested in the European Commission’s mandated 800MHz and 2600MHz 4G frequencies, Bouygues argues that, well, so did they. Bouygues has a unique opportunity to recover its losses and take a very significant, and very high-revenue part of the market in 2013, and, as a Bouygues client, and as a capitalist, I hope that the French government will not sway to the demands of Free.