French telecoms watchdog Arcep has revealed the results of its positioning auction held on 20 October, which aimed to determine the position of the secured blocks in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band. In the 5G auction held at the beginning of October, Orange secured 90MHz in the band for EUR854 million (USD998.7 million), followed by Altice (80MHz, EUR728 million), Bouygues Telecom (70MHz, EUR602 million) and Free Mobile (70MHz, EUR602 million). Following the positioning auction, the allocated spectrum is as follows:
• Altice France (SFR): 3490MHz-3570MHz
• Bouygues: 3570MHz-3640MHz
• Free Mobile: 3640MHz-3710MHz (paying an additional EUR3.1 million)
• Orange: 3710MHz-3800MHz
All four operators have been awarded one 50MHz block (at a price of EUR350 million payable in equal instalments over 15 years) in exchange for optional commitments, which include the deployment of 3,000 5G sites by the end of 2022, 8,000 (2024) and 10,500 (2025). Arcep also provides for a mechanism to ensure that non-urban areas will also benefit from these deployments. Thus, 25% of the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band sites in 2024 and 2025 will have to be deployed in areas outside the main agglomerations. By 2022, at least 75% of the sites must have a bit rate of at least 240Mbps, which will be gradually extended to all sites by 2030. Operators will also be required to activate network slicing by 2023 at the latest.