Iliad subsidiary Free Mobile has become the fourth mobile network in France to announce the commercial launch of 5G.
The telco said that its 5G network already has 5,255 active sites across France, which enables the carrier to cover almost 40% of the country’s overall population.
Free Mobile also said that its 5G network already covers rural areas as well as towns and cities.
For its 5G network, Free Mobile uses frequencies in the 700 MHz band as well as frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band which Free acquired in the French spectrum auction in 2020.
The operator said that its current spectrum enables broad coverage and good indoor reception thanks to the so-called low frequencies (700 MHz), as well as ultra-fast speeds, thanks to 70 megahertz in the midband (3.5 GHz).
Free Mobile also highlighted that it is principally using European equipment for developing its 4G and 5G networks.
The Free 5G Plan is accessible as of today, both for existing Free Mobile Plan subscribers – at no extra cost – and to new subscribers, the telco said.
Last week, rival operator Bouygues Telecom announced the availability of 5G in Marseille and said that its coverage has already reached 67 cities with a population of over 50,000 since the commercial launch of its 5G services on December 1.
The telco said that its 5G rollout has reached over 1,000 municipalities across the country.
Bouygues Telecom initially launched 5G in 20 cities across France. Some of the cities covered by the company’s 5G network are Lyon, Nice, Cannes, Montpellier, Avignon, Reims, Le Havre, Toulon, Dijon, Villeurbanne, Le Mans, Aix-en-Provence, Boulogne-Billancourt, Metz, Versailles, Saint Denis, Argenteuil, Rouen, Montreuil et Nancy.
The French operator said it expects to achieve nationwide coverage by the end of 2021. The current roll-out phase will rely on the 3.5 GHz and 2.1 GHz bands.
Meanwhile, rival operator SFR announced that its 5G service will be available in 120 towns and cities in France by the end of December. The telco had initially launched its 5G commercial network in Nice last month.
Some of the large cities to be covered by SFR’s 5G network include Bordeaux, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice and Paris.
Meanwhile, Orange recently said it was expecting to launch its commercial 5G services in 15 municipalities on December 3. Some of the cities where the 5G service will be initially available are Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers and Clermont Ferrand. By the end of 2020, more than 160 municipalities will be covered with 5G.
The main auction for 3.4-3.8 GHz frequencies for the provision of 5G in France was completed in early October.
In this spectrum auction, local operators Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad committed to pay a total of 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) for a total of 11 blocks of 10 megahertz of spectrum.
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