France’s third-largest mobile operator, Bouygues Telecom, has finally confirmed that it will bid for a E619 million license to operate a 3G mobile network in France.
The company could be the only bidder in the second licensing round, which the French government is having to hold after its initial offer of four licenses in August 2000 received bids from only France Telecom and SFR, the two largest players.
Bouygues has also agreed to acquire i-mode technology from Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, which is to be used on the network. No launch date is set for i-mode services in France, but Bouygues will benefit from DoCoMo’s support and advice gained from launching the i-mode technology in other European countries.
The licensing round is not attracting the bids the French government is hoping for. Suez says it will not be bidding. Many other operators are also staying clear – Deutsche Telecom, DoCoMo and Telefonica have all already declined to bid.
Formal bids must be received by ART, the French telecoms regulator, by noon May 16. The 3G licenses will be issued by the end of November 2002.