Orange France announced today that it will launch its commercial 5G mobile network on 3 December 2020 in 15 municipalities including Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers and Clermont Ferrand. By the end of the year it plans to cover more than 160 municipalities with the 3.5GHz 5G network, providing data speeds up to three-to-four times faster than 4G LTE. Each municipality will be added to the official coverage list when its 5G outdoor population coverage rate reaches 80% or more.
In France’s recent 3.5GHz spectrum auction, Orange obtained the largest block on offer (90MHz), whilst it began marketing 5G-ready mobile user packages in October. Orange’s announcement notes that its initial 5G deployment focuses mainly on the new 3.5GHz frequencies ‘and may be supplemented by the use of 2.1GHz frequencies’ for higher speeds (up to a theoretical maximum downlink of 2.1Gbps).
Rival operator Altice France (SFR) claimed the country’s first 5G commercial launch, in Nice on 20 November, while Bouygues Telecom plans to switch on its 5G network on 1 December.