French operator Free Mobile has met the terms of its licence by reaching at least 75 percent population coverage over its own 3G network by 12 January, according to tests conducted by telecom regulator Arcep. This obligation refers to outdoor coverage and excludes the roaming agreements the company has with Orange France.
Free Mobile’s 3G network coverage was verified through a series of tests carried out between 29 January and 2 March. More than 40,000 measurements were taken, using devices whose access to 2G and 4G networks, and to other operators’ 3G networks, was deactivated. The deadline set for Free Mobile’s next 3G rollout obligation is 12 January 2018, by which date the operator must be covering at least 90 percent of the population.
Separately, Free Mobile said its 3G network now covers 78 percent of the population. The operator said it has deployed antennas at around 5,000 sites, despite increased constraints (legislation and local charters) and despite difficulty in obtaining access to 2G sites where other operators have placed 3G equipment. Free Mobile invested much more in its 3G network in its 3 year history than competitors did over the same period.
The company said it aimed for 90 percent 3G coverage by January 2018 and 60 percent 4G coverage at the end of 2015.