French telecommunications regulator Arcep said it will award 5G spectrum licenses to local mobile operators in the short term after a frequency positioning auction was recently completed.
The regulator said that 5G networks are formally allowed to begin commercial operations on November 18.
Last month, Arcep carried out a primary auction for 3.4-3.8 GHz frequencies for the provision of 5G. In the process, local operators Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad committed to pay a total of 2.8 billion euros ($3.31 billion) for a total of 11 blocks of 10 megahertz of spectrum.
Arcep said that said Orange bid €854 million for a total of 90 megahertz; SFR €728 million for 80 megahertz, while Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile (Iliad) each offered €602 million for 70 megahertz.
The frequency positioning auction, which was completed on October 20, determined the final position of the blocks in the 3.4 -3.8 GHz band.
Orange recently confirmed that it plans to commercially launch 5G services in December.
Arcep also announced the creation of a 5G “observatory” with the aim of keeping track of 5G deployments nationwide.
The observatory will provide the following information:
-The number of 5G cell sites that each operator has activated, and the frequency bands they use.
-A regional mapping of active 5G cell site deployments, by operator;
-The number of 5G cell sites activated in “territories of industry” and in priority rollout areas;
-The percentage of 4G cell sites in operators’ network that are providing increased throughput and equipped with a theoretical capacity to supply speeds of 240 Mbps
This observatory will enable officials and citizens to stay informed about the arrival of 5G in their area, the regulator said.
Arcep’s specifications for the 5G auction stipulate that each operator must launch 5G services in at least two cities before the end of 2020. Each carrier should deploy 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 sites in 2024 and 10,500 sites by 2025.
Eventually, all of the cell sites must provide a 5G service using frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band or other bands, according to the regulator.
Arcep also highlighted that that 25% of 3.4-3.8 GHz sites in the last two stages (2024 and 2025) must be located in sparsely populated areas, targeting economic activity, notably manufacturing, excluding major metropolitan areas.
By 2022, at least 75% of cell sites must be capable of providing speeds of at least 240 Mbps at each site, according to Arcep’s initial specifications.
Arcep’s conditions also stipulate the obligation for carrier to deploy 5G to provide coverage in roadways across France.
France is the only one of the five most populous European Union countries where 5G is not yet commercially available. Mobile carriers in in Germany, the U.K., Spain and Italy launched commercial 5G services in several cities last year.
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