The French government has opened the bidding for the country's fourth 3G licence, and set the reserve price at E240 million. France Telecom says that it will appeal against the licence fee, saying that it is too low compared to the 3G licence fees paid by the incumbent operators.
France Telecom is arguing that the lower licence fee amounts to illegal state aid for the new entrant, although the presumed winner will be getting a smaller chunk of 3G radio spectrum and will be competing in a more developed market.
Bidders have until 29th October to submit their bids, with the licence expected to be awarded around June 2010.
Iliad, the parent company of French Internet service provider Free, has confirmed that it will be a candidate for the licence. The regulator rejected a previous bid for the licence by Iliad in October 2007. Virgin Mobile France has previously suggested that it might be interested in the licence as a joint venture with Numericable, and Egypt's Orascom Telecom recently said it would consider joining a consortium to bid for the licence.