The French government has launched a call for applications for the reallocation of frequencies in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands, following a public consultation in April/May. The original authorisations in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands awarded to Orange, Altice France (SFR) and Bouygues Telecom in 2006 and 2009 expire in 2021 and 2024, while their 2100MHz concessions are valid until 2021 and 2022. Applications must be submitted before 2 October 2018 to French telecoms regulator Arcep, which will conduct the award procedure. The new licences will come with obligations which will ensure that all ‘white spaces’ (areas with no mobile services) are covered by high speed wireless networks. Each successful bidder will be required to construct 5,000 new 4G sites in areas identified by the Minister for Electronic Communications, while also equipping all 2G/3G sites to support 4G technology (covering an additional one million people in 10,000 communes).
In addition, Arcep has amended the authorisations of Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and Altice, in order to make the coverage commitments for the period 2018-2021 (agreed with operators in January 2018) binding and enforceable.