France’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep) has invited applications for the award of available 3G/4G spectrum in the French overseas territories (‘departement d’outre-mer’, DOM) of Guadeloupe, Guyana, Reunion, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy. The watchdog will auction spectrum in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands (yet unallocated overseas), along with additional frequencies in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands. All interested parties are invited to submit their applications by 10 May 2016. The regulator will award up to four licences ‘per zone’, each with specific deployment obligations; Arcep said that the authorisations in Guyana will come with obligations to improve the coverage of the two national highways (NR1 and NR2). In regards to Reunion and Mayotte, Arcep decided to set the commercial launch of 4G services for 1 December 2016, due to the ‘particularly fragile’ competition environment since the November 2014 merger of SFR and Outremer Telecom.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, back in July 2013 Arcep unveiled a ‘broad public consultation’ covering mobile frequency assignments in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands, with a view to facilitating the introduction of LTE. The process was successfully concluded in February 2014, and a formal tender was expected to be introduced in 1H14, only for the regulator to miss its self-imposed target.