France likely to postpone 5G auction

20 Nov 2019

France is likely to delay its planned 5G spectrum auction until at least March 2020, three months later than originally scheduled, Reuters writes citing two sources with knowledge of the matter. The postponement is said to be due to a disagreement between the French finance ministry and telecoms authority Arcep over the exact size of spectrum to be auctioned off and the starting price for the 5G blocks.

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 (aiming to ensure 5G fosters competitiveness in other sectors of the French economy, increase operators’ transparency and stimulate innovation), 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).

France, Arcep