Arcep gives green light to Bouygues for 1800MHz LTE

15 Mar 2013

French telecoms regulator Arcep has said that it will allow Bouygues Telecom to refarm spectrum in the 1800MHz band, currently used for 2G GSM services. The decision means that the cellco will be able recycle the frequencies for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), on the condition that it pays more than when it was using the spectrum solely for voice services and also that it returns some frequencies to the regulator. Rival operators SFR and Orange France had opposed Bouygues’s request, but the regulator stated: ‘We weren’t convinced the impact would be negative. It will incite all operators to accelerate the rollout of 4G services.’ Bouygues may be allowed to start offering 1800MHz LTE from as early as 1 October. SFR said that a switch ‘substantially changes the competitive and economic framework in which we made our bids [for 4G frequencies]’. Orange France meanwhile ‘regrets this decision which, far from calming an already highly destabilised market, creates a new shock by giving one player an advantage that its competitors cannot match.’ Arcep has rejected the complaints.