France Completes 3.4 - 3.8 GHz Mid-Band 5G Spectrum Auction

French telecommunications regulator Arcep announced that it has completed the 5G auction for 3.4 – 3.8 GHz frequencies in the n78 band after three days of bidding. The initial stages of the process took place in January this year, but the coronavirus pandemic forced delays upon the rest of the process. It saw all four major operators of France get 5G spectrum and raised a total of €2.79 billion ($3.28 billion).

The regulator said in a release that it sold 110 MHz spectrum with Orange securing the largest chunk of 40 MHz, while SFR won 30 MHz, and Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile (Iliad) both received 20 MHz each. When combined with the initial auction in January for 310 MHz of spectrum has now been allocated for 5G deployment. Payments for the spectrum will be spread over 4–15 years, depending on the block in question.

Arcep also confirmed that a frequency positioning auction will be held in October to determine how these frequencies will be positioned in the 3.4 -3.8 GHz band. The regulator explained that this process will give the winning bidders an opportunity to express their preferences regarding their position on the band.

Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, said that with 90 MHz of 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.

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 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.

Click here to view details about 5G frequency spectrum in France.