January 12, 2010 / 3:39 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Iliad interested in more wireless spectrum-CEO

* Iliad to choose equipment vendor for mobile network soon

* Could buy more 3G spectrum, if price is not too high

(Adds details)

By Marie Mawad

PARIS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Communications company Iliad (ILD.PA) is interested in bidding for additional wireless spectrum, including 3G frequencies to be auctioned off by France in the coming months, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Iliad was awarded a licence to be the fourth wireless operator in France in December and is now gearing up to build a national network to challenge existing mobile operators France Telecom FTE.PA, Vivendi’s SFR (VIV.PA) and Bouygues Telecom (BOUY.PA).

The company, which markets “triple play” packages of broadband, telephone and TV services under the brand name Free, plans to launch service in about two years.

“We are interested in the new frequencies, but not at any price,” Maxime Lombardini told a news conference hosted by the Association of Media Journalists.

Lombardini also said Iliad was negotiating with the four major equipment vendors —Alcatel-Lucent ALUA.PA, Nokia-Siemens Networks NOK1V.HE, Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Huawei HWT.UL — and would choose one or more in the next few weeks.

“The vendors are offering us some interesting financing offers,” he said. “The discussions are quite advanced.”

The French telecoms regulator ARCEP is in the process of setting the price for the additional lots of 3G spectrum.

Media reports have said that France Telecom has argued the price should be around 200 million euros, while Iliad wants it to be 50 million euros.

A decision is expected in the first half of the year on the 3G spectrum, after which ARECP will start auctions of 4G spectrum. (Reporting by Marie Mawad, Writing by Leila Abboud; Editing by David Cowell)

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