Conseil d’Etat rejects complaints about Free 3G licence

France’s Conseil d’Etat has rejected appeals from a number of industry players to annul the award of the country’s fourth 3G mobile licence to triple-play service provider Free.

The Conseil d’Etat ruled that communications regulator ARCEP’s recommendation to cap the fixed element of what Free paid for the licence at €240m did not undervalue the spectrum granted to the operator or discriminate against existing players because less spectrum was awarded to Free and because the operator was entering the market 10 years after its competitors. It also ruled that granting 2G roaming rights to Free did not constitute an unfair advantage, but a remedy to ensure competition in the market.