France Telecom could raise prices for 4G-CFO

PARIS Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:56am EST

PARIS Jan 28 (Reuters) - France Telecom will raise the prices of some of its mobile offers in France when it launches faster fourth-generation mobile networks later this year, its chief financial officer told a newspaper.

Gervais Pellissier told Les Echos that the group had increased prices by 6 to 10 pounds in Britain when its local operator EE launched 4G late last year, and was working on revamping its tariffs in France by April when 4G would be switched on in 15 French cities.

"We are convinced that customers are willing to pay a small premium as long as coverage and quality are a given," said Pellissier.

France Telecom's effort to claw back pricing power comes after a tumultuous year in which new player Iliad's Free Mobile took more than 5 percent market share with its low-cost, no contract offers.

Vivendi's SFR, Bouygues Telecom and France Telecom were all forced to lower their prices to compete, which has sapped their profitability and cash generation. All are hoping that the move to 4G, which offers mobile download speeds of up to ten times faster than existing networks, will help them blunt the appeal of Free Mobile.

France Telecom said in a statement on Monday that it was on track to cover all of Paris with 4G by the end of the year. (Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)