Sunday, 25 October 2020

Better late than never: French 5G spectrum auction completes

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Friday 02 October 20

After much delay, the French sale of 5G spectrum has finally come to a close, with all four major operators taking part

France’s long-awaited 5G spectrum action has finally finished, raising €2.79 billion and seeing each of the country’s four major operators get a piece of the pie.    As a nation, France has been slow to allocate spectrum for 5G. After lengthy arguments over the auctions terms, the initial stages of the process took place in January this year…

France’s long-awaited 5G spectrum action has finally finished, raising €2.79 billion and seeing each of the country’s four major operators get a piece of the pie. 
 
As a nation, France has been slow to allocate spectrum for 5G. After lengthy arguments over the auctions terms, the initial stages of the process took place in January this year, but the advent of the coronavirus pandemic forced lengthy delays upon the rest of the process. 
 
Compared to many of their geographic neighbours – like Germany and the UK, who have both already launched 5G – France could be said to have fallen behind in 5G as a result of these delays. However, with the economic pressures that come with the coronavirus, some operators have even asked French regulator Arcep that the auction be delayed further; Bouygues Telecom, for example, have asked that terms for the auction be reconsidered and a date arranged for 2021 to accommodate the drastically different telecoms environment.
 
However, no further delays were forthcoming and yesterday saw the conclusion of the auction, selling the final 110 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4–3.8 GHz band. The allocation was relatively uniform across the country’s four operators: Orange secured the largest chunk with 40 MHz, while SFR won 30 MHz, and Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile both received 20 MHz each.
 
Arcep also allocated each of the four operators a 50 MHz block for a standardised fee of €350 million. When combined with the initial auction in January, 310 MHz of spectrum has now been allocated. 
 
There is in fact remains one final step in the auction process, with winners due to bid for the positioning of their allocated spectrum within their respective bands, with the process expected to be completed shortly.
 
Orange praised the auction for being “well balanced”, suggesting that the price and spread of allocation would encourage the operators to invest.
 
Payments for the spectrum will be spread over 4–15 years, depending on the block in question.
 
“With 90 MHz of 5G spectrum, Orange will be able to consolidate its leadership in mobile networks and will develop an efficient 5G network, a guarantee of attractiveness and competitiveness in France," said Orange CEO Stephane Richard.
 

Also in the news: 
 
 
 
 
 

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