Strong growth in the mobile market due to the combined effect of an exceptional increase in customer numbers and calling traffic

Paris, 8 November 2012

Today ARCEP is publishing the results of its electronic communications market scoreboard for mobile services in France during the third quarter of 2012.

There were 72 million mobile customers in France as of 30 September 2012, which translates into a penetration rate of 110.3% of the total population - i.e. mainland France plus the overseas territories. It also marks a 7.4% increase over the year before, which is the highest annual growth of the past ten years.

There are 69.3 million mobile subscribers in mainland France (+7.6% on the previous year), or 1.5 million more than at the end of Q2 2012: this is the highest ever third quarter increase, especially for monthly subscriptions (roughly 940,000 additional flat rate plans) and for machine-to-machine cards (+460,000) whose numbers had already risen sharply in the first half of the year.

61.4 million customers have signed up for a mobile service with one of mainland France's four mobile network operators (MNO): Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange France and SFR. Virtual network (MVNO) operators' share of the residential market has been holding steady, coming to 13.5% in Q2 and Q3 2012 despite MNOs having taken over customers once served by virtual operators Darty mobile and KPN France. The MVNO customer base stood at 7.8 million at the end of Q3 2012.

This strong increase in customer numbers has gone hand in hand with a considerable rise in calling and data traffic since the start of the year: calling minutes were up by 11% annually as of mid-2012, which is the highest increase of the past five years, while SMS traffic rose by 28.8% and data traffic by 68.6%.

Mobile customers in France

SMS number in France (million)


Linked documents

The Observatory (in French only)