France’s independent telecoms regulator, the National Agency of Frequencies (Agence Nationale des Frequences, ANFR), has published its monthly update on the number of base transceivers stations (BTS) in the country, reporting that it had authorised a total of 18,039 5G New Radio (NR) sites (excluding shared sites) by January 2021. Orange France, the country’s leading cellco in terms of subscribers, has been authorised to operate 1,953 BTS in the 2100MHz and 3500MHz frequency bands, with the operator’s CEO Stephane Richard saying in an interview with local newspaper Journal du Dimanche that the 5G network has now been activated in 160 cities across the country. Going forward, Orange is aiming to deploy 5G in 30 other cities, such as Aix-en-Provence, Brest and Toulon, while 5G services will be activated in the capital Paris in Q1 2021. Second-largest operator by subscribers, Altice France (SFR), has been authorised to build a total of 2,048 5G-enabled NR sites in the 2100MHz (1,700) and 3500MHz (775) frequency bands. For its part, Bouygues Telecom had permission to operate 3,553 5G sites in the 2100MHz band and 821 BTS in the 3500MHz band, with the operator now claiming to cover 25 cities with a population of over 70,000 (equivalent to over 1,000 municipalities) with 5G. Lastly, Free Mobile claimed the top spot with a total of 12,895 authorised 5G sites across two bands: 12,894 in the 700MHz band and 941 in the 3500MHz band.
Meanwhile, the number of 4G sites in operation in France reached 47,498 BTS by 7 January, while the number of 3G-enabled sites stood at 48,369.