We’ve been inundated with users in the last couple of weeks asking about coverage maps for the new French network “Free Mobile“, who will sell plans that start at €0 (for customers already subscribed to their broadband plans). For others, plans will be available for as low as €2, with unlimited plans going for €15.99/€19.99.
However, this is not simply another MVNO on the block, Free Mobile have actually purchased a nationwide licence to 3G spectrum and plan to roll out their own network with speeds up to 42Mbps (HSPA+). In addition to this, customers will be able to use any of Free’s 5 million wi-fi hotspots and enjoy free data usage whilst doing so. Other networks offer a similar wi-fi network, but can’t match the scale provided by Free who can tap into the routers provided as part of its large broadband business which enable customers to access the internet through people’s home connections, similar to the way Fon works.
Currently Free Mobile covers approximately 30% of the french territory and we’ll be mapping out its coverage as users of our android app report back. As its a new network it will take a while for us to build up a coverage map, but you can watch the progress on the following two links:
Note: Currently, the network is reporting back two different IDs so there are two maps. At some point in the future we will combine them into one.
Remember that whilst Free mobile is still rolling out its network it is offering roaming on the Orange network where it does not have coverage. We already have much more detailed coverage information on Orange France available here:
If you are wondering about making the plunge to Free Mobile but worried if there will be coverage in your area, we recommend checking if there is at least Orange coverage to fall back upon. As long as Orange has you covered, why not switch to Free now and start saving whilst you are waiting for Free to roll out in your area.
According to initial reports, consumers have been flocking to the new network with MVNOs – who’s customers already include the most budget conscious – losing significant amounts of customers to Free. Again, Free Mobile is not simply a new MVNO or a copycat network, its a fundamentally different model. Free is using extensive vertical integration of services to make a unique offering at an unbeatable price, and we (along with other nervous mobile operators) will be watching this story unfold with great interest.