Bouygues launches 4G service sales drive
PARIS (Reuters) - Bouygues Telecom (BOUY.PA) will add 200 sales staff to its call centers after winning the right to re-use mobile frequencies once used for voice calls for superfast mobile broadband, its chief executive told Le Figaro newspaper.
The move is a shift from last year's plan to cut over 500 jobs to cope with an intense price war brought on by the arrival of low-cost mobile group Iliad (ILD.PA).
Bouygues is benefiting from a decision similar to one by Britain's regulator last year allowing mobile operator EE to launch 4G services ahead of rivals over old mobile spectrum.
Bouygues CEO Olivier Roussat said France's third-largest mobile operator would launch 4G in a few weeks in eight cities including Strasbourg, Lille, Douai, Lyon, and Toulouse.
"Significant coverage" of the country would be assured, he added, after October 1 - the date the government has authorized Bouygues to begin reusing its 1800 megahertz spectrum for 4G.
Like other European operators, Bouygues will seek to use the move to 4G, which offers download speeds up to five times faster than older technology, to lift prices.
Roussat criticized larger rival France Telecom FTE.PA for initially charging only 1 euro per month more for 4G, saying this "was not the best way to bring value back" to the sector.
"We believe that 4G, which is a real technology breakthrough, adds around 5 euros of value, which should translate into the price," he said in an interview published on Wednesday.
In a statement, the company said it would announce its 4G mobile plans in the coming weeks.
(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by David Cowell)