Feeds

Bouygues to launch i-mode services and bid for 3G license

Europe turning to NTT DoCoMo

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom SA has signed up to become the fifth European licensee of the i-mode mobile internet technology owned by Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc.

The two companies announced that Bouygues will launch the service in France within 12 months. This underlies the increasing popularity of i-mode in Europe, at least among mobile operators, as a technology for offering content and services on 2.5 and 3G networks.

Dutch operator KPN mobile NV is due to launch i-mode services in the Netherlands this week, and has already launched i-mode in Germany through its subsidiary E-Plus. KPN will follow with a launch of i-mode by KPN Orange in Belgium in June. Last month, UK third-generation mobile operator Hutchison 3G UK announced that it planned a launch of i-mode service later this year, but refused to clarify details.

NTT DoCoMo president and CEO Keiji Tachikawa confirmed that the company is in negotiations with as yet unnamed mobile operators in Italy and Spain. This means that it would gain full coverage of the major Western European countries, excluding the smaller countries Ireland, Portugal, Austria and Switzerland.

These current licensees give DoCoMo a total potential subscriber base of 25 million, far short of the 32 million current subscribers to i-mode in Japan. As the services have yet to launch anywhere apart from Germany, it is hard to gauge the European reaction to i-mode, and whether the Japanese popularity can be emulated in Europe.

The French deal follows hard on the launch of m-mode, AT&T wireless Corp's version of the i-mode service launched in the US this week. DoCoMo will license the technology and intellectual property for the i-mode service for 10 years, which will enable Bouygues to run services over both a GPRS and UMTS network under the terms of the license agreement. However, this is conditional on Bouygues winning a third-generation mobile license.

Bouygues is France's third largest mobile operator, and with 6.6 million subscribers decided to pull out of the bidding for third-generation mobile licenses in January 2001, claiming it was far too expensive. But as the price of the two remaining unsold licenses has been slashed, Bouygues has finally stepped in. At the same time as making the i-mode announcement, it also confirmed that it will bid for a third-generation mobile license when the auction reopens on May 16.

The company suggested that the price is right at the 619m euros ($550.1m) now mandated by the French government, and the additional tax of 1% of 3G revenue. This is far cheaper that the 4.9bn euros ($4.4bn) that it could have paid in January 2001. But this probably leaves France without a fourth license holder, as no bidder has emerged, and the auction is less than a month away.

Even with the reduced price, Bouygues is going to have to raise more finance to pay for the license. To pay the government it plans to raise 800m euros ($711m), in a bond issue to its existing shareholders. This will have to be financed by its two shareholders, property group JC Decaux International SA and construction company Bouygues Group SA.

Bouygues Group will get hit the hardest as it owns 79.1% of Bouygues Telecom, the remainder is held by JC Decaux. The Bouygues Group will finance this with a bond issue of its own, raising between 750m euros ($666.6m) and 1bn euros ($888.8m) from the markets.

© ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.