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Orange takes Free to court: why its chances are close to 0

Orange at VivaTech © Orange

Orange and the operator Free Mobile appeared before the Paris commercial court on Tuesday March 26, 2024. The purpose of this hearing was to resolve a conflict around the commercial terms used by Free to communicate on its 5G. Orange, officially the leading operator in France for the quality of its mobile network, does not appreciate that Free speaks of its 5G network as the most “grand 5G network in France”.

Which is technically, with more than 94% of the territory covered, true. Even if we are not talking about quite the same throughput potential, due to the frequencies allocated to the two operators during the last auctions on the subject. At the time of the allocation of frequencies, Free had effectively set its sights on the 700 MHz range, frequencies which extend further and therefore make it possible to easily and inexpensively cover large portions of the territory, via a reduced number of stations. ;#8217;antennas.

Orange does what’he can… to scratch Free ?

Orange has obtained frequencies allowing better performance subsequently – but which carry much less far – requiring a large number of antennas to cover a given area, which increases the cost of deployment. However, even if Arcep studies regularly praise Orange for the quality of its network, the speeds observed by subscribers are not yet very far from those of Free. And again, when they get 5G, Orange has only been able to deploy, to date, enough antennas to cover 60% of the territory.

This lower coverage, the little difference in speeds and the aggressive price of 5G at Free, therefore make the mation “largest network in France” a particularly effective argument for recruiting subscribers on the backs of Orange and other operators. By taking legal action, Orange hopes to avoid the departure of subscribers, for the benefit of competition. The problem is that, based on the information that has reached us via our colleagues at iPhon.fr, Orange seems in a very poor position to win.

De facto nothing that Free says about its network is false. Studies by Arcep and other independent measurements confirm a priori the higher coverage rate of the Free Mobile operator on 5G. One wonders how the complaint itself could have been deemed admissible. The real problem, ultimately, is that the term itself 5G, which is neither the work of Orange nor the work of Free Mobile, covers the realities of speeds and range. and very different stability.

In addition, Orange can really further mark the gap between its speeds and those offered by Free. This implies, for example, the arrival of 5G SA (standalone) – which will soon unlock many of the benefits promised by technology, and which are still struggling to emerge. For now, both Orange and Free offer so-called NSA (non-standalone) 5G – which is based on the same core network as that of 4G. This impacts flow rates, but also latency, particularly in busy locations such as train stations or stadiums.

With 5G SA, 5G antennas are finally connected to their own core network infrastructure. For example, it can guarantee higher speeds and a much more stable connection in congested places. In any case, we have the feeling that Free has more to fear from the activation of this new core network than from the judgment which will be rendered, for this case, on May 15, 2024.

Obviously, if Orange has so far “dragging its feet” on the subject (well, not for long since we understand that 5G SA made in Orange is officially arriving soon) installing this new core network is a massive investment which is added to deployment costs already extremely high on sites operated for 5G. Which therefore explains why the historical operator is free from this action which seems straight out of Don Quixote.

  • Orange was heard before the Paris commercial court regarding a conflict of commercial mentions.
  • The operator finds that Free's communication around its 5G offers is misleading.
  • However, to read the communication carefully operator, everything seems to indicate that Free is actually rather factual – particularly on its higher coverage rate.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116