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Make the most of phone price war

INTERNET operator Free has caused a stir with a promise to halve people’s mobile bills when it enters the market at the start of next year.

The claims by the firm – famous for having been the first in France to offer “tripleplay” (landline, broadband and digital TV) at €29.99 – have led the other operators to introduce new offers.There is now an unprecedented range in value and flexibility.

Le Journal du Dimanche said it was rumoured Free Mobile would start its packages at €5.99 including two hours of calls a month or €29.99 for an all-inclusive, unlimited deal (this has not been confirmed).

It is also rumoured Free will allow for good-value mobile calls to other countries, thought to be the reason Numéricable has started offering unlimited calls to foreign landlines (typically only available in costly business packages) for a €10 supplement to people with its “unlimited” package. The latter, including landline and mobile calls and texts (in France) and 3G internet, is €24.90 a month, however to be eligible you must also be the firm’s customer for television or internet.

Many people are said to be holding off from entering new contractual commitments as they wait to see what is proposed by Free. In the meantime it is a great time to look at what you are paying and see if you can do better, or to think about a contract if you currently use “pay-as-you-go”.

La Poste Mobile was the first to enter the fray, in May, when it was the first to offer all of its phone deals in versions without a set length of contract for those who already have a phone. For example one with two hours of calls included and unlimited texts costs €19 (as opposed to €22 for the traditional alternative with a phone).

Others have followed suit, including SFR which also now offers all its packages in versions with or without phone and with or without commitment. It has also brought in reductions for loyal customers, including incentives for those not renewing their phones, and a new range aimed at those who use their phones mainly to surf the internet.

Bouygues also launched an offer without phone and a new range – only available over the internet – B&You, with no contract period.

The latter includes such deals as €24.90 for all calls, texts, MMS (multimedia) messages and wifi internet, or another €12 to include 3G.

Orange also brought out cheaper internet-bought, no phone, offers, like Click (from €12.90/ month with one hour of calls – €3 less than a similar shop-bought offer), though these include a commitment period. “Sosh” a new range of deals aimed at young technophiles (owned by Orange, but marketed separately), has no set period.

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