Europe’s mobile enfant terrible Free Mobile today introduced phase 2 of its plan to flood France with cheap data and voice services. It’s installing femtocells in homes around the country, accessible to any Free customer.
Adding 1 million customers in the second quarter, French ISP Iliad’s upstart wireless operator is still up-ending France’s mobile market. Though its momentum has slowed since its stellar 2.6 million-activation launch quarter, the company is still growing rapidly at the expense of France’s incumbents.
After little more than six months of operation, Xavier Niel’s French mobile operator Free.fr seems to be having a serious impact on the local market. Not only is it stealing millions of customers from bigger rivals, but it’s forcing them to radically alter their price plans too.
After just three months of operation, France’s disruptive Free Mobile — which has upset the market with an innovative and controversial offering — has won 2.6 million subscribers, an unprecedented number for a new European launch.
Hong Kong Broadband Network, a company I have covered numerous times in the past, is perfectly comfortable selling a lot of bandwidth cheaply and embracing all sorts of over the top services running on top of their network and are okay selling big fat dumb pipes.
Xavier Niel, the maverick founder of Free.fr broadband service, will redefine the mobile landscape with Free Mobile, a new approach thanks to a cutting-edge network that blends Wi-Fi, HSPA+ 3G, femtocells and its all-fiber backbone, offering unlimited voice, texting and data for cheap.
Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, once famously said that voice was going to be free. She was wrong in ponying up billions of dollars for Skype, but she was right in her assertion about voice. Thanks to European broadband service providers treating voice as a loss leader to attract triple-play customers, local voice has become almost free in Europe, according to research conducted by Telegeography, a division of market research firm PriMetrica.
In 2008, VoIP represented 26 percent of total fixed lines in Europe but brought in only 10 percent of the total fixed-line revenues. I bet a big chunk of the VoIP-related revenues are coming from VoIP-to-mobile phone calls. Mobile calls are seriously expensive in Europe, and as a result, any attempts by mobile VoIP companies such as Truphone have been met with resistance by the carriers. Read More about In Europe, VoIP Grows & Grows
On my recent trip to Paris, I had the chance to meet up with the man behind what is arguably one of France’s most dynamic technology companies — one that I feel epitomizes a true, 21st century broadband service provider. Here is a look into Xavier Niel’s Free.fr.