MADRID May 10 France Telecom's Orange
will launch superfast mobile Internet in Spain on July 8 in six
cities, making it the first to make 4G services widely available
in the country and beating rival Yoigo by a matter of
Faster mobile Internet, or 4G, may give Orange and
TeliaSonera's Yoigo an edge in Spain's cut-throat mobile phone
market, where the two biggest players, Telefonica and
Vodafone have lost share to cheaper rivals over the past
Orange and Yoigo have increased their market share in the
country, which has the highest smartphone penetration in the
European Union, ahead of Britain. The attractions of faster
mobile Internet may help them win new customers.
4G services, already available in several other European
countries, make it easier and quicker to watch television and
make video calls on mobile handsets.
But in Britain, the first network to launch 4G, EE, owned by
France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, failed to stem a
drop in service revenue despite attracting 318,000 customers to
the service in five months.
Yoigo, the fourth-biggest operator, said earlier this week
it would be the first to offer 4G in Spain, with a July 18
launch date and no additional cost for subscribers with 3G
Orange had previously said it would introduce 4G in the
third quarter, without specifying a date. The company declined
to say if the service would be offered at the same cost as 3G.
Orange's 4G services will be available to 12 million
Spaniards in 15 cities by the end of 2013 and all provincial
capitals will be covered by end-2014, the company said on
Orange's investment in the rollout of 4G services, including
previous work to upgrade its network and the purchase of
spectrum, would total 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), it said.
It is not known when Telefonica and Vodafone will launch 4G
in Spain. Vodafone has carried out a pilot for 4G and
Telefonica, which plans to make superfast mobile Internet
available in Brazil and Britain this year, said it was ready to
quickly roll out the service in Spain according to market needs
and company strategy.