In the West Indies and Guyana, the mobile operator Free launches a price war

L’free mobile operator launched Tuesday in the West Indies and Guyana offers at prices up to six times lower than those practiced by the operators in place, promising to shake up the market as it had done in France in 2012. “The idea, it’s to arrive here with prices that will give purchasing power,” he told AFP. Xavier Niel, main shareholder of Iliad, parent company of Free. The Free Caribbean package offers a price of 9.99 euros per month for 120 gigabytes of data and unlimited phone calls. Ten years after France, the telecommunications company is setting up in Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélémy, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana.

Territories where the mobile communications market is dominated by four very well established operators (Orange, SFR, Digicel, Dauphin Telecom). “Our offer is sustainable and will last,” assured Xavier Niel. “It shows how much other operators have binged on this subject.” Free is aiming for a 25% market share.

An arrival prepared since 2016

In 2012, Iliad made an explosive entry into the mobile market with rates well below those offered by the three other operators who shared the market, forcing them to retaliate by lowering their rates. This had led to a restructuring of the sector. Free has been preparing for its arrival in the West Indies since 2016. It was only six years later, after a formal notice from Arcep and a partnership with the operator Digicel to facilitate the deployment of its antennas, that Free could put down its suitcases in the West Indies. “I’ve been doing telecoms for almost forty years. Never, never, has it been so difficult to launch an operator”, observed Xavier Niel, denouncing the brakes imposed by competitors on the local market.

Free claims to date 400 antennas in the Antilles-Guyana. “We are, I think, above 90% coverage of the population”, estimates the boss of Iliad. The operator is aiming for 98% coverage within two years. Although Xavier Niel took a long time to set up Free in the Antilles-Guyana, he has already had interests in these territories for two years via the company NJJ, owner of France-Antilles. the local daily still shows losses since its recovery in April 2020, when its liquidation had already been pronounced by the mixed commercial court.

Long-term commitment in the Antilles-Guyana

“Last year, the France-Antilles group lost 5 million euros”, confided Xavier Niel, “this year, we are in marked improvement”. “What guided us was to say to ourselves that we have no right to have territories without the continuity of a general paper press”, argues the shareholder. In addition to a switch to digital, Xavier Niel confirmed to AFP that a “new machine to print the newspaper” would be installed in Martinique by August.

Since the group’s liquidation, Guadeloupe and Martinique dailies have been produced in Guadeloupe. “We will be able to wrap up later,” rejoiced the press boss, who sees in it proof of his long-term commitment to the Antilles-Guyana.

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In the West Indies and Guyana, the mobile operator Free launches a price war


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