French telecoms regulator Arcep has revealed plans to allocate a portion of the 3.5GHz (3400MHz-3800MHz) band for 5G use, and it aims to begin the frequency allocation procedure in September 2017. In order to accommodate the allocation of the frequencies for 5G use, Arcep said that existing allocations will be regrouped in the form of contiguous blocks towards the bottom of the band. This configuration will make it possible to have more than 300MHz of contiguous spectrum available for 5G by 2020, and 340MHz by 2026 (390MHz in places where the frequencies are not being used for superfast wireless systems).
Meanwhile, a sub-band of 80MHz (3600MHz-3680MHz) has been identified as suitable for conducting 5G trials, with such spectrum to be awarded in a timely fashion to any player that requests it. Due to the temporary restrictions imposed by other users of these frequencies, Arcep has identified Lyon, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble as the cities where 5G trials could be performed.
To be able to satisfy the two requirements identified as urgent in its two-month consultation on the topic (which ran until March 2017), Arcep also confirmed that it will be using a portion of the 3.5GHz band to upgrade wireless local loop (WLL) networks to superfast wireless networks, while spectrum in the 2.6GHz (2570MHz-2620MHz) time division duplex (TDD) band will be used to upgrade professional mobile radio (PMR) networks.