Free Mobile to phase out domestic roaming on Orange network

French challenger operator Free Mobile has announced it will begin phasing out its use of Orange’s network for national roaming.

The two company’s 2G/3G roaming agreement runs until the end of 2020 but they have amended it to allow Free to start scaling back from the start of 2017.

“An agreement for the end of the national roaming service was signed on 15 June 2016,” said an Orange statement. “This provides for the progressive limitation of services by Free Mobile, from January 2017, for its customers roaming on Orange’s network. This agreement expires at the end of 2020.”

“Free Mobile – which has respected its two main rollout obligations under its license and has acquired a significant portfolio of frequencies – has invested massively in the rollout of its network and it now covers 84.5% of the French population for 3G and 68.3% for 4G,” said the Free Mobile statement.

Free Mobile was launched at the start of 2012 specifically to increase the number of French MNOs and keep the three incumbents honest. This roaming agreement was signed in March 2011, in part because Free has no 2G license. This change will have come about partly because the roll-out of Free’s own network is making the deal redundant and partly because the French regulator recently tightened its guidelines covering such agreements.

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