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Mobile phone giants losing out

SFR, Bouygues and Orange admit losing hundreds of thousands of subscribers to low-cost operator Free

FRANCE'S three main mobile phone firms have admitted losing hundreds of thousands of customers following the arrival of low-cost provider Free Mobile.

SFR, France's second largest operator, lost around 200,000 customers in January and February according to its owners, media group Vivendi. Boss Jean-Bernard Levy said that the drop is roughly "1% of total customers" for the operator, which boasts 21 million on its books.

Orange, with a mobile customer base of 27 million, has lost 201,000 subscribers since Free entered the market as a serious contender at the start of this year.

Bouygues Telecom boss Roussat Olivier also announced yesterday that it had lost customers to Free. In a press conference he said that they had lost 159,000 subscribers from the previous 11.3 million mobile customers - with 134,000 migrating directly to Free.

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