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December 20, 1987

NOKIA/ALCATEL AND WATER COMPANY GAIN FRENCH CELLULAR TELEPHONE LICENCE

By CBR Staff Writer

The French government has licensed another group of companies to enter the French cellular telephone market. Alcatel SA, Nokia Oy of Finland and French private water distribution company Compagnie Generale des Eaux SA make up the lucky consortium selected to compete against the public telecommunications authority, the DGT, which holds the monopoly on the cellular phone market at the moment, and which works with Matra SA in mobile communications. The consortium won the licence against competition from Ericsson teamed with the French Bouygues construction company and from Motorola linked with another private water company Lyonnaise des Eaux SA. The successful consortium expects other companies to join, with Bell operating company BellSouth looking a likely contender. BellSouth has a base in France and recently won a licence to operate a national paging network in France in partnership with Telefusion, and has a 30% stake in UK national paging company Air Call Plc. France has only about 30,000 cellular phone subscribers compared with some 200,000 in the UK and 300,000 in Scandinavia. Introducing competition to the cellular radio market follows competition in the value added network services market, where IBM has set up with Paribas and Credit Agricole in a venture called Axione.

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