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March 19, 2020

ARCEP announces a delay of the French 5G bandwidth auctions

By GlobalData Technology

French telecoms regulator ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes) has announced a delay of the 5G auctions initially scheduled for mid-April. This is amid operational challenges driven by the COVID-19 lockdown measures taken by France.

GlobalData’s France Telecom Operators Country Intelligence Report reveals that in January 2020, ARCEP rolled out the first phase of the 5G award process for the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz spectrum band. During this phase, each of the telcos – Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Free Mobile – is able to acquire a block of 50MHz spectrum at a fixed price of €350 million (US$385 million) per block, payable over 15 years.

5G applications have been submitted to ARCEP

All four telcos submitted their applications in February to be assessed by ARCEP. The frequency blocks are being assessed in exchange of telcos committing to a number of requirements attached to the attribution. These include coverage and performance commitments, provision of fixed wireless services, opening 5G networks to MVNOs and improving commercial and business buildings’ indoor coverage.

The second stage of the 5G frequency award process will see additional spectrum blocks of 10MHz be auctioned with an initial cost of €70 million (US$77 million) payable over four years.

The first phase was planned to be completed by March 2020. The second phase was scheduled to start mid-April with the aim to be finalized by end of June 2020.


ARCEP delay announcement may cause problems for commercial services

This delay may have an impact on France’s 5G commercial services availability expected in 2020. GlobalData’s initial forecasts expect 5G to account for 27% of total mobile subscriptions in France by 2024.

5G will be transformative for businesses and the vertical industries, especially in such crisis times, with higher speeds (up to 1Gbps or more), higher network capacity, lower latencies (<1ms), and the ability to absorb a large number of connections powering the Internet of Things (IoT) world.

With 5G and network slicing, telcos will be able to allocate dedicated network slices to critical communications. These will include telehealth services and teleworking traffic in order to guarantee dedicated network capacity, specific speeds, latencies, reliability and always-on communication.