French telecoms watchdog Arcep has published the results of its two-month public consultation on a strategic review of spectrum for ultra-high speed mobile systems. The regulator said that the document examined 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 draft review, which was subject to consultation from 6 December 2014 to 16 February 2015, received 46 contributions, which affirmed that the 700MHz band is ‘vital to the future development of superfast mobile services. In order to address ‘the past and upcoming exponential increase in data traffic on superfast mobile networks’, Arcep said that it would make access technologies more efficient, optimise network architectures, and make additional frequencies available. Further, Arcep will now finalise its draft call for applications for the allocation of frequencies in the 700MHz band, in cooperation with the government; the regulator is planning to issue the call in July 2015.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in mid-December 2014 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.