French push forward UMTS licence decision

Suzanna Kerridge, Paris correspondent

Suzanna Kerridge, Paris correspondent

The French government could announce earlier than expected its decision on how to distribute UMTS licences. According to reports in the French press, Lionel Jospin is considering bringing forward the decision from mid-June to the end of May following pressure from the telecoms industry. Sweden and Norway recently announced their decision to hold a beauty contest for the allocation of their four UMTS licences. National Assembly finance committee spokesman Didier Migaud proposed introducing the UMTS legislation in the budget law due to be discussed later this week. Speaking yesterday at the opening of a chip factory in the South of France, Jospin said the allocation of the licences must take into account the interests of the State as well as those of the telecom operators. However, he claimed discussions were still taking place within the Ministry of economy, finance and industry over the method of distribution. The French telecom regulator ART spoke out last Thursday claiming the government should choose a beauty contest rather than a bidding process.