French telecoms watchdog Arcep has launched a 5G auction for spectrum in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band, with four auction rounds taking place on the first day of the process (29 September). The unit price for a 10MHz block of airwaves in the band reached EUR85 million (USD99.5 million). The qualified candidates have requested the following number of blocks: Orange (five), Altice France (SFR) and Bouygues (three each) and Free Mobile (two). As the number of requested blocks is greater than the available ranges (eleven), the auction will resume today (30 September) at a starting price of EUR90 million.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Arcep revealed in February 2020 that four companies submitted applications for the allocation of frequencies in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band in mainland France, namely Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange France and Altice France. In March 2020, however, Arcep postponed the 5G spectrum auction to an unspecified date due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A spokeswoman for the authority was quoted as saying that Arcep ‘won’t be able to maintain the auction planned for mid-April’, and plans to ‘organise the frequency sale for a later date once more information is available’.