France’s Iliad takes price war into 4G market

France’s Iliad has made clear that it plans to continue being a thorn in the side of the country’s incumbent operators by unveiling a range of low-cost tariffs for its new 4G service.

The operator says a 4G service will now be available to consumers for as little as €19.99 ($27.15) a month, or €15.99 for customers who already subscribe to its internet services.

The tariff includes 20GB of monthly data usage and Iliad claims its price is just a fifth of fees being charged by rivals for a comparable service.

France’s Iliad has made clear that it plans to continue being a thorn in the side of the country’s incumbent operators by unveiling a range of low-cost tariffs for its new 4G service.

The operator says a 4G service will now be available to consumers for as little as €19.99 ($27.15) a month, or €15.99 for customers who already subscribe to its internet services.

The tariff includes 20GB of monthly data usage and Iliad claims its price is just a fifth of fees being charged by rivals for a comparable service.

According to the Financial Times, Bouygues Telecom (Paris, France) is charging €29.99 a month for just 3GB of data usage, while a 3GB plan from SFR (Paris, France) costs more than €40.

Analysts have responded by saying Iliad’s (Paris, France) move will quickly end any hopes operators had of being able to price 4G services at a premium to 3G ones.

France Telecom (Paris, France), SFR and Bouygues had all looked to 4G as a means of countering the decline in revenues from other technologies and services, largely caused by Iliad’s entry into the country’s mobile market in early 2012.

A price war started by the new entrant forced the incumbents to slash rates or risk losing customers, but revenues and profits have fallen at all three companies as a consequence.

The established players have been claiming they can provide superior services and better network coverage than Iliad, but Iliad has hit back in its recent statement, saying it is one of only two French operators with 20MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum dedicated to 4G services.

The operator claims its use of so much spectrum for 4G allows it to provide services of up to 150Mbps.

Iliad also claims to have deployed more than 700 4G antennas covering more than 1,000 towns and cities across France, and plans to expand coverage aggressively over the next few weeks.

According to the Financial Times, however, France Telecom has deployed nearly 3,500 4G antennas, and Bouygues more than 4,500.

Iliad also lacks any of the valuable 800MHz spectrum that is ideally suited to providing services in rural and less densely populated regions.

As a result, it will have to install many more cell sites than its rivals to provide nationwide 4G coverage.