France Launches Action Plan for Assigning 5G Spectrum Licenses

The French government has launched a procedure for assigning 5G frequency licenses after it approved specifications proposed by the communications regulator and the financial conditions for the licenses. Initially, the government fixed the price of a block of 50 MHz spectrum at 350 million euros ($386 million), and the price of an additional block of 10 MHz at 70 million euros.

The government and French telecoms regulator Arcep designed a mechanism that makes it possible to sell 50 MHz basic blocks at a fixed price to telecom operators. In return, operators have strong obligations to deploy their network across the French territory. These 5G coverage commitments are much more ambitious than in other European countries and will constitute a strong element of the country’s competitiveness in future.

Last month, the 5G spectrum was sold at a floor price of 2.17 billion euros. Arcep states that it would use frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band and the total allocation would be for 310 MHz of spectrum. Arcep also said that it would include four blocks of 50 MHz at a price of 350 million euros, and the rest would be blocks of 10 MHz at 70 million euros each. The payments for the 50 MHz blocs could be staggered over 15 years, and payments for the 10 MHz over four years.

Disagreements between France’s finance ministry and the telecoms authority over the spectrum to be auctioned and the minimum price for the blocks caused concerns that the process could be delayed.