PARIS, June 23 France's largest carrier Orange
topped an annual quality review of mobile services
carried out by the country's telecoms regulator, while Iliad's
Free Mobile lagged competitors.
ARCEP, the telecoms regulator, carried out 90,000
measurements of voice, texts, and web surfing on the four French
mobile operators in the first quarter of this year. New fourth
generation networks now being built by operators were included
for the first time.
The survey evaluated 258 different indicators - from traffic
capacity and the speed of file transfers to the quality of
watching movies and internet browsing - indicating significant
differences between operators.
"Orange gets the best results for the telephony service and
for most data services," ARCEP said in its report.
Iliad's Free Mobile service, which launched its mobile
service in January 2012 and is still building its 3G network,
"got significantly worse results on a large number of
While Iliad works to build its network, it has a contract
with Orange to carry its traffic, allowing Free Mobile to
provide services to consumers even where it has no mobile
Orange showed above-average performance on 213 indicators,
against 75 for Bouygues Telecom, 38 for SFR, the Vivendi
subsidiary, about to be acquired by Numericable
. Free Mobile outperformed on only two measures.
SFR's results are below some previous years in which it has
come out ahead of Bouygues and close to Orange. A spokesman for
SFR said the lower service quality was caused by the technology
choice the operator had made on how to upgrade its network to
4G, which required it to turn off antennas as it went.
"The renovation of our network has caused some problems and
interruptions this year," said the spokesman. "We hope we will
be back at the top of the ARCEP survey next year once our
network modernisation is behind us."
Bouygues Telecom did not return a request for comment, while
Iliad declined to comment.
Orange said it welcomed the results: "We have come in first
in the past four years and are largely ahead of our
competitors," said a spokeswoman. "It validates our strategy to
differentiate ourselves by the quality of our networks."
(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Leila Abboud; Writing by
Maya Nikolaeva, editing by David Evans)