Feeds

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

Europe turning to NTT DoCoMo

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.