The French government has published its Order No.PRMX1430559A which modifies the National Table of Frequency Distribution (Le Tableau National de Repartition des Bandes de Frequences [TNRBF]) and assigns spectrum in the 700MHz band, hitherto attributed exclusively to Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), to telecoms watchdog Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep). The two regulators will have equal rights over the spectrum band, which is currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmission, from 1 December 2015 until 30 June 2019, with transitional provisions guiding the migration of broadcasting services to other bands applicable during that period. From 1 July 2019 Arcep will become the exclusive assignee of the 703MHz-733MHz/758MHz-788MHz blocks.
According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June 2013 officials in Elysee, Matignon and Bercy confirmed President Francois Hollande’s decision to allocate frequencies in the 700MHz band to telecom services. Addressing the concerns of DTT broadcasters that the spectrum reallocation would interfere with plans to migrate the DTT platform to MPEG-4 AVC by 2015 and DVB-T2 by 2023, President Hollande said in October 2014 that France needed an audiovisual sector that could broadcast broadly, effectively and securely, adding: ‘This is the objective of transferring the 700MHz band to the telecom sector. The state will ensure that the available resources are guaranteed for broadcasting’. In December 2014 the government announced that the planned auction for Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable frequencies will be initiated in the second half of 2015, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls clarifying: ‘The actual transfer will take place between 1 October 2017 and 30 June 2019, with the exception of 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.