French telecoms operator Orange has ended its negotiations with rival Free Mobile regarding a 5G mobile network sharing agreement. In a statement, the market leader highlighted: ‘Given a divergence in deployment strategy, Orange has decided to end these discussions. For Orange, the quality of its networks is a priority.’ The two operators have been discussing the potential 5G tie-up since October last year.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in Arcep’s 5G auction held at the beginning of October, Orange secured 90MHz in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band for EUR854 million (USD998.7 million), followed by Altice (80MHz, EUR728 million), Bouygues Telecom (70MHz, EUR602 million) and Free Mobile (70MHz, EUR602 million). Both Orange and Free went on to launch their respective 5G networks in December, with Orange offering the service in 15 municipalities including Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers and Clermont Ferrand, while Free claimed ‘almost 40%’ population coverage from the outset.