Orange has hit back at Iliad in the ongoing price war within the French mobile market, by offering free 4G LTE services with their respective low-cost packages.

Orange said that its customers on the low-cost digital brand “Sosh” will now get access to 4G LTE services for no additional charge.

France's largest operator is the latest to join the price war, kicked off by low-cost operator Iliad last month and joined by Bouygues last week.

Iliad’s 4G LTE announcement had unsettled the market further for the other three French operators, who have invested heavily in 4G LTE technology to raise subscription fees and turn around shrinking revenues.

lliad, France’s smallest operator, also extended its offer to include free 4G LTE on its ultra cheap €2 per month offer last week, while on Tuesday the group announced plans to allow customers to lease smartphones for an average price of €12 a month.

Iliad currently shares its 3G and 4G LTE networks with Orange.  

However, Orange’s CEO Stephane Richard recently addressed the escalating price battle by threatening to end its sharing agreement with Iliad, by saying that Orange “may very well do without the sharing agreement”.

The CEO, who was speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, added that Iliad still had very few 4G LTE antennas on the ground compared to its competitors, and even if it accelerates its rollout, Iliad is far from achieving national coverage on its own.

In November, Iliad had written to SFR, Bouygues and the French telecom and competition regulators stating its interest in joining a network-sharing alliance with them.

However, the regulator has refused to get involved  in the proposed joint venture which is currently under discussion.

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