Take-up of 4G across Europe, while lagging the United States and Asia, has begun rising in the past year, driven by rocketing demand for mobile data and launches in major markets like Germany, Britain and France. In France, Orange, Vivendi's SFR, and Bouygues Telecom said on Thursday that they had reached the million customer mark - a target each carrier had separately set for the new year when they began racing to build the new networks in early 2013.
However hopes by the big telcos that they would be able to sell a higher margin product failed to be realised because of some serious cost cutting competition to draw in new customers. Iliad shook up the market in December when it announced it would make 4G available for no additional cost to its customers on its main 19.99-euro ($27) monthly plan.
That prompted the three incumbent operators to react with a round of price cuts, with Bouygues going the furthest, and all adding 4G to their no-frills plans sold without a contract.