In France, the 5G spectrum auction was postponed from April 2020, due to the pandemic outbreak, to September 2020. The auction resulted in Orange, SFR (Altice France), Bouygues Telecom, and Free obtaining frequency blocks in the 3.4-3.8GHz spectrum band for a total value of €2.8 billion (US$3.3 billion). Orange obtained 90MHz of spectrum for €0.9 billion (US$1 billion), Altice secured 80MHz for €0.7 billion (US$0.9 billion), while Bouygues Telecom and Free received 70MHz for €0.6 billion (US$0.7 billion) each.

Orange revealed its plan to launch 5G commercial services in December 2020. It has already brought to market a set of new 4G smartphone postpaid plans that are compatible with 5G, once the technology becomes commercially available. These plans require a minimum one-year commitment period.

The entry-level 5G-compatible smartphone plan offers 70GB of data, unlimited calls, and SMS and is priced at €24.99 (US$29.1) per month for the first year and €39.99 (US$46.6) per month thereafter. The plan is €5 more expensive than the corresponding 4G plan offered by the telco – the latter is priced today at €19.99 (US$23.28) for the first 12 months and €34.99 (US$40.75) thereafter.

The most premium 5G-compatible smartphone plan is priced at €79.99 (US$93.15) per month for the first year and provides unlimited data, calls, and SMS, with the price increasing on the second year by circa 19%.

Orange also offers two mid-range 5G-compatible smartphone plans with data allowances at 100GB and 150GB, higher than the data allowance of 80GB offered on the most premium 4G smartphone plan.

Orange is trying, thus, to monetize consumer 5G services through a mixture of a price premium for 5G access and higher data allowances than those offered on 4G.

Furthermore, the discounted price offered for the first 12 months is a good way to help drive adoption and get customers to experience 5G speeds.

It is worth noting that competitor Bouygues Telecom also launched 5G-compatible mobile plans. With these 5G-compatible plans becoming available before the commercial 5G launch, telcos can assess the demand, test the market and drive early interest and adoption.

GlobalData forecasts total 5G subscriptions to contribute to circa of 38% of total mobile market subscriptions in 2025, supported by 5G network expansions and the arrival of more affordable 5G-enabled smartphone models.