Bouygues announces France’s first commercial LTE-A service

France’s third largest mobile operator – Bouygues Telecom – has brushed of its recent setbacks in the M&A market and the subsequent need to cut costs by announcing it is the first French operator to launch commercial LTE-Advanced service, which it has rebranded as 4G+.

From today Bouygues customers in Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Malakoff and Rosny-sous-Bois can, in theory, download data at speeds of up to 220 Mbps, although in practice the first 4G+ hardware will only become available to enterprise customers at the start of July, in the form of Huawei’s 4G+ gateway. Later in July Bouygues will start selling the Bbox Nomad 4G+ hotspot and it expects the first 4G+ smartphones to become available in September of this year.

Bouygues doesn’t plan to charge a premium for the faster service and it expects to expand the reach to “France’s 16 biggest towns and cities” from September. Bouygues has also announced it’s widening the frequency band used on its 1800MHz sites from 10MHz to 15MHz, thus increasing capacity for 4G customers.

The 10th annual LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Trailing a distant third behind Orange and SFR in terms of total subscriptions, with aggressive upstart operator Free Mobile threatening to relegate it to fourth, Bouygues needs to do something to improve its fortunes. A merger with SFR had looked like the most likely positive step until Numericable crashed the party, and reports Orange’s interest in Bouygues have, to date, proved an exaggeration. Bouygues will be hoping for a similar first-to-market increase in higher value subscriptions as experienced by EE in the UK in 2013.

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