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Free posts mixed results, moves towards fibre partnership

French service provider Iliad Telecom/Free lost 77,000 mobile and 15,000 fixed broadband customers in France in the quarter to June, meaning that its total subscriber base in the French market has dropped by 92,000.

On the upside, Free added 172,000 new fibre customers in the quarter, taking its total to 1.3 million at the end of June.

Free’s fixed base contracted by 31,000 in the first half, which the company attributed in part to the impact of its dispute with Altice France over carriage of the NextRadioTV channels BFM TV, RMC Découverte and RMC Story.

The company said that the majority of lost subscribers were lower-paying customers.

In Italy, Iliad’s mobile operation added close to a million customers in the first half, taking its total to over four million during the summer.

The company said that its overall top lien had grown by 8.4% to €2.6 billion for the first half, with French service revenue returning to modest growth thanks to a solid mobile performance.

The group’s EBITDAal figure – a variant on adjusted EBITDA impacted by operating leases – was down 7.4% to €802 million.

Iliad also announced that it was in exclusive talks to create a new partnership with InfraVia, a French infrastructure funds investment organisation, to accelerate investment in fibre in less-densely populated areas of France via a new company. This would take existing over co-financing contracts and about a million lines already deployed. InfraVia will have a 51% in the JV, with Free providing services over the networks along with third-party operators.