French telecoms watchdog Arcep has revealed that the 5G auction for frequencies in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band has now concluded, with the successful bidders agreeing to pay a total of EUR2.786 billion (USD3.271 billion) for 310MHz of spectrum. In the last round of the auction (held on 1 October), the qualified candidates requested the following number of blocks: Orange (four), Altice France (SFR, three), and Bouygues and Free Mobile (two each); as the cumulative requests matched the number of available blocks, the auction was closed. In total, Orange secured 90MHz in the band for EUR854 million, followed by Altice (80MHz, EUR728 million), Bouygues Telecom (70MHz, EUR602 million) and Free Mobile (70MHz, EUR602 million). Arcep is now planning to hold a ‘positioning’ auction in October, to determine the position of the secured blocks in the band.
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’.