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Numericable and Virgin Mobile protest changes to Free 3G licence

French cable operator and telco Numericable-Completel and mobile telco Virgin Mobile have written to telecom regulator ARCEP in protest against a possible amendment of the 3G licence awarded to Iliad Telecom, operator of the Free service, according to French press reports.

Numericable CEO Pierre Danon said that Free’s ability to exploit its licence was “unfair” following a statement by the French competition regulator underlining the need for Free to obtain access to the 3G network of at one of the country’s mobile operators – Orange, SFR and Bouygues – after a consultation by ARCEP called for the operators to open up their networks. Free, which must launch its 3G service by the beginning of 2012, had not obtained this concession when it acquired the fourth 3G licence.