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Free to launch next-generation box ‘within weeks’

French service provider Free plans to launch a new version of the Freebox, its flagship device and major focus of its presence in subscribers’ homes, in the next few weeks, according to CEO Thomas Reynaud.

Interviewed by French financial daily Les Echos, Reynaud said that Free planned to launch the Freebox V8.

Reynaud said that Free would also show the “best of Ligue” football, with an offer of the best moments from all 380 matches available “in one click”.

In a wide-ranging interview, Reynaud said that Free’s aggressive investment and marketing of fibre broadband at the same price it sells ADSL broadband would pay off because it freed the company from relying on third-party infrastructure and gave it an end-to-end connection to the customer. He said that fibre subscribers were more likely to view movies and more likely to subscribe to the group’s flagship box, the Freebox Delta, launched in December 2018, than other subscribers.

Free majority owner Xavier Niel last year promised that the new Freebox V8 would complement the high-spe3c Delta by providing an accessible and transparent offering, that would convince subscribers to sign up with a device that did not cost an enormous amount to make. The service provider is believed to have turned to a yet-to-be-named OEM to produce the new box for the first time in the history of the Freebox to optimise costs and reduce time to market.

The new box is expected to be based on the Android TV platform.

Competition between French broadband providers is centred on their box offers, and the market heated up in the course of last year, with the launch of Altice France’s SFR Box 8, which included WiFi 6 capability, for €5 a month in August, and the launch of Orange’s Livebox 5, which includes smart WiFi functionality,in October.

In his interview with Les Echos, Reynaud also said that Free plans a major assault on the enterprise market – currently dominated by incumbent player Orange, this year.