Iliad record 2008, more fibre coming

From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris

Iliad, parent company of Free, the leading French ISP and IPTV operator after Orange, has announced that 2008 was a record year, with 1.3 million new ADSL subscribers, bringing the total to 4.2 million, and a market share of 25.2 per cent, generating a hefty cash flow to enable it to continue investing in optical fibre.

Net profit however fell by 33.2 per cent to E 100.4 million, due to the acquisition of Alice from Tiscali, bringing in 840,000 subscribers. Ebitda exceeded E200 million for the first time. Profitability had grown, attributed to the increase in the rate of local loop unbundling – 85.6 per cent of its subscribers and an increase in value added services. The high generation of free cash flow will enable the group to finance the whole of its investment in fibre, said the group's financial director Thomas Reynaud.

Iliad confirmed that it is continuing to invest in fibre, a total of E1 billion by 2012 and the same amount in mobile telephony if it were to be attributed the fourth mobile licence later this year.

“Fibre makes us more profitable,” explained the group's director general Maxime Lombardini, “as it makes us independent of France Telecom, not having to pay for access to the local loop.”

Free provides triple play for E29.99 per month, including unlimited VOIP calls to 92 countries and 150 TV channels. Optical fibre subscribers pay the same, but get a bandwidth of 100 Mb/s

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