updated 12:20 pm EST, Fri January 13, 2012
Free may have cheapest iPhone usage plans yet
Free's new mobile division has become the fourth major carrier in France to offer the iPhone. The Iliad-owned group plans to carry the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on January 27 with one of the least expensive plans yet. At 20 euros ($25) a month for a 16GB iPhone 4S with unlimited voice and texts as well as 3GB of unfettered data before a cap, Apple's smartphones would cost roughly half as much or less to own as a phone with an equivalent plan.
The devices themselves will cost as little as one euro to buy, albeit after promising to sign a Canada-like three-year contract. France sells unlocked iPhones and should provide an alternative for those who would prefer the option to leave early without a penalty.
Pricing by the month varies, dipping down to as little as 15 euros for an 8GB iPhone 4. Subscribers who want a 32GB or 64GB iPhone 4S have to pay 49 or 119 euros respectively for the device, as well as between 22 and 36 euros per month.
The rate pricing, which isn't exclusive to the iPhone, has the potential to upturn the French cellphone industry. Bouygues Telecom, Orange, and SFR all use traditional pricing and typically have lower acceptable data limits and capped voice and text volumes at the lower end of their pricing. Free is already known for its low-price landline Internet access, which disrupted French Internet providers, and is aiming to do the same for mobile.