SFR, France's second biggest wireless carrier with more than 20 million subscribers, has selected Seattle-headquartered RealNetworks to power its mobile music platform in a three-year agreement.

The music service was previously powered by France's Musiwave.

The migration to RealNetworks' system officially began yesterday (Nov. 17), although SFR's mobile customers will initially see no difference in the service.

"But in the future, SFR will be able to offer new music services more quickly compared with other platforms; they will be able to build scale very easily," Andreas Spechtler, RealNetworks' EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) managing director for technology, products and solutions, tells

SFR's 4 million quad-play broadband households via subsidiary Cegetel Neuf will also have access to the music service for the first time, he says.

RealNetworks currently powers music services for operators in nine European countries and 14 worldwide. Last week, it took over the operation of Slovenia-based Si.Mobil Orto Musiq service. With SFT, however, it is powering a music service in France for the first time.

Among the other content types that its technology will be able to offer SFR and other clients in the future is ringback tones.

"That content type is still untapped for rights owners. Yet, some mobile operators in Europe make more revenue from ringback tones than ringtones already," he adds, citing Vodafone Germany and T-Mobile Germany as examples.

SFR, a joint venture of French media group Vivendi (UMG's owner) and U.K. carrier Vodafone, offers millions of tracks from all the majors and independents. The rates for its a-la-carte packages range from €0.99 ($1.47) per track to €13.99 ($20.87) per album.