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March 07, 2011

French Mobile Operators to Offer Service Plans for Low-Income Residents
By Beecher Tuttle
TMCnet Contributor

France on Monday inked an agreement with several notable mobile telecom companies to create a group of service plans that are designed with low-income residents in mind, according to a recent AFP report.

The plans, which are scheduled to be introduced within the next six months, will provide users with a minimum of 40 minutes of call time and 40 text messages for a maximum rate of 10 Euros, or around $14, the ministry of industry told the news source. The new plans are expected to save users who receive social benefits approximately 20 percent on their average phone bill.

As part of the agreement with the French government, the mobile operators will be required to send additional fee warnings to customers who are on the verge of exceeding their allotted minutes and text messages.

Current mobile service plans are rather expensive in France, with most users needing to buy into long contracts to subsidize the price of their handset, the AFP points out. While the allotted minutes seem to be scarce, the new plans should at least enable low-income consumers to stay connected for emergency purposes.

In related news, France Telecom (News - Alert) announced last week that it will allow competitor Illiad to have access to its 2G and 3G networks when the Internet provider enters the cell phone market in 2012.

Illiad bought France's fourth 3G mobile license in 2009, but would have been unable to offer subscribers the fastest available data speeds if it failed to reach an agreement with a rival. The agreement will go into effect when Illiad deploys a network that covers 25 percent of the nation, which is expected to occur sometime next year.

In return for the lease on its networks, France Telecom will receive $1.4 billion in revenue over the next six years. By that time, Illiad's network should cover more than 90 percent of the French population.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee


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