France raises EUR2.64bn in 800MHz 4G auction

23 Dec 2011

The government of France has raised a total of EUR2.64 billion (USD3.45 billion) from the second round of its auction of 4G mobile licences. Yesterday, the country’s telecoms regulator Arcep confirmed that licences to operate next generation mobile services in the ‘golden’ 800MHz band had been won by France Telecom-Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR. The fourth bidder, Iliad’s Free Mobile, was unable to secure a licence but will be able to apply to share SFR’s network, as part of the terms of the latter’s commitment in the auction.

In the auction of the 800MHz spectrum, Bouygues Telecom won ‘Block A’ with a bid of EUR683 million, while Orange France paid EUR891 million for ‘Block D’. SFR, however, was awarded ‘Block B’ and ‘Block C’, having paid EUR1.07 billion for the two blocks, and is now required to offer Free Mobile access to its 800MHz network once the newcomer’s own 2600MHz 4G network reaches 25% of the population.

Taken together, the auction of both batches of frequencies for 4G services – 800MHz and 2600MHz – has netted the government almost EUR3.60 billion – eclipsing its own target of EUR2.50 billion, Arcep said.