France's number-two operator SFR said it will launch commercial LTE services in Lyon and Montpellier in early 2013, having already reached 98.5 percent of the French population with its HSPA+ services – which it claims is the most of any operator.
The company first trialled LTE in Marseille last year, but will soon make it commercially available using 800Mhz and 2.6Ghz spectrum in Lyon and Montpellier, with other cities to follow soon after.
With regard to its HSPA+ rollout, it said that by the end of 2012, it hopes to reach 88 percent of the population with 21Mb/s services, with 63 percent reach for 42Mb/s.
SFR also plans to make its Auto Connect Wi-Fi service a commercial proposition by the middle of June. The service allows Wi-Fi authentication from SIM cards via the EAP-SIM protocol.
The company also renewed an exclusive partnership with hotspot network Fon and said it’s also piloting Wi-Fi coverage in metro and RER train service with Naxos.
In addition, the company now has 100,000 femtocells installed with updated versions due in July.
SFR owner, media company Vivendi, announced earlier this week that the operator’s chairman and CEO Frank Esser was to leave the company, after joining as COO in 2000. Vivendi chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Levy has assumed the role.