Bouygues opposes Arcep’s 5G spectrum allocation plan

3 Sep 2019

French operator Bouygues Telecom has called for amendments to Arcep’s 5G spectrum release proposal, with Deputy CEO Dider Casas saying that the draft plan favours the larger operators Orange and Altice over their smaller rivals Bouygues and Free Mobile, La Tribune writes. Under the current plan, each of the four operators (Orange, Altice, Bouygues and Free Mobile) would be issued 40MHz-60MHz of 5G spectrum at a fixed price, while the remaining frequencies would be put up for auction (with a cap of 100MHz per operator). Casas said that his company would ‘vigorously oppose’ the plan, as it could lead to a worst-case scenario where Orange and Altice secure 100MHz each and Bouygues and Free are left with only 50MHz. Bouygues instead proposes a fixed allocation of 60MHz per operator and a total cap of 90MHz.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in July Arcep opened a public consultation on the terms and conditions for the allocation of 5G spectrum in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band in metropolitan France. The regulator is planning to release 31 TDD blocks (10MHz each) in the 3490MHz-3800MHz band. Arcep proposes a mixed allocation mechanism, which does not rely on pure financial bidding. The procedure will include a first stage, in which up to four operators can obtain frequency blocks for optional commitments, before a second stage (auction), which will allow candidates to obtain additional frequencies. Each bidder will be allowed to purchase a maximum of 100MHz. In terms of commitments, Arcep proposes to impose an obligation for operators to offer 5G in at least two cities before the end of 2020, and then impose obligations to support the deployment of 5G equipment in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band as follows: 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 (2024) and 12,000 (2025).