France’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep) has approved the applications of the country’s four existing mobile network operators (MNOs) to participate in the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction. The regulator said that the examination process concluded that the applications from Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange France and Numericable-SFR were all eligible and satisfied the qualification criteria. As a result, the quartet are authorised to participate in the 700MHz auction, which will commence on 16 November 2015.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the government is planning to free up 2×30MHz blocks of spectrum in the 703MHz-733MHz/758MHz-788MHz bands between April 2016 and June 2019, thanks to improvements in digital terrestrial TV (DTT) compression standards, the so-called ‘second digital dividend’. The 700MHz licences will come with a base price of EUR416 million (USD454.7 million) per 2×5MHz block, with no buyer allowed to purchase more than three blocks (2×15MHz). Further, bidders will not be allowed to exceed a cap of 2×30MHz of combined spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz bands.