Tuesday, June 27, 2006

JupiterResearch: My Freebox experience

Thomas Husson at JupiterResearch writes about Free in France, which is "launching soon a dual WIFI/GSM phone (around 200 euros) to be used at home through their newly launched Freebox (v5). However, Free's main rival, 9 Cegetel, has already launched TWIN for 199 euros, a dual WIFI/GSM phone working with 9box and with many hotspots (particularly using the FON network)." He states:

Given that 30 to 50% of mobile calls are made at home, no doubt there is an opportunity for alternative operators to try to gain a share of the pie. Integrated operators are also investing the space and Orange is doing well, launching their UNIK service next September at only 99 euros. I think it is still an early market given the fact, that there are still quality issues (battery life, quality of calls themselves, handover, interoperability, coverage,...).
Husson then writes about his experience with Free, and says:
I moved in a new flat recently and decided to go for their LLU offerings, bypassing France Telecom. I had to wait almost a month to benefit from the service. I know this is technically complex, but still. I had to spend hours with their client call center to follow complex procedures. When it finally worked, the TV service did not work immediately and I had to spend half an hour with the hotline again.

I then ordered a WIFI card. I received it only a few days after. Great. There was not even a letter with it explaining how to install it and configure the PC. What about having 10 sentences starting by: "Dear client, we are happy to have you on board. Thanks for having ordered...blabla". So I had to call the hotline again, which is NOT FREE, contrary to that of some competitors in the French market.
Husson advises that Free "continue to innovate but invest in marketing and customer care, or you will have to face churn very soon..."