French telecoms watchdog Arcep has launched a two-month public consultation on a strategic review of spectrum for ultra-high speed mobile systems, following the government’s announcement that Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable frequencies in the 700MHz band will be allocated for telecoms use. Arcep said that the document examines the two paths that will help sustain and accelerate the ongoing upgrade of mobile networks: reusing existing frequencies with more efficient technologies; and making new frequencies available, notably those in the 700MHz band. The regulator is seeking feedback on ‘the issues involved in and the system to be used to allocate 700MHz band frequencies’; the responses will enable Arcep to establish a framework for allocating spectrum in the aforementioned band. All interested parties are invited to submit their comments by 16 February 2015.
As noted by CommsUpdate last week, the government announced a timeframe for the planned auction of the 700MHz band by stating that the tender will be initiated in the second half of 2015; the process could generate up to EUR2.1 billion (USD2.6 billion) for the treasury. Although the allocation of the spectrum, which is currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmissions, is scheduled to take place in December 2015, Prime Minister Manuel Valls clarified: ‘The actual transfer will take place between 1 October 2017 and 30 June 2019, with the exception of a few areas where [the frequencies] could be used by April 2016.’ All four domestic cellcos – Orange France, Numericable-SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad (Free) – are expected to bid in the auction.