The French government has launched a procedure for assigning 5G frequency licenses after it approved specifications proposed by telecoms regulator Arcep as well as the financial conditions for the licenses, the government said in a release.

The government confirmed it had fixed the price of a block of 50 megahertz of spectrum at 350 million euros ($386 million), and the price of an additional block of 10 MHz at 70 million euros.

Junior Economy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said that the government and French telecoms regulator Arcep had designed a mechanism that makes it possible to sell 50-megahertz basic blocks at a fixed price to telecom operators.

In return, operators have strong obligations to deploy their network across the French territory, she said

“These 5G coverage commitments are much more ambitious than in other European countries and will in future constitute a strong element of our country’s competitiveness,” the official said.

The official had recently confirmed that the 5G frequencies would be sold at a floor price of 2.17 billion euros.

Last month, Arcep said that it would award frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band and the total allocation would be for 310 MHz of spectrum.

It said it would include four blocks of 50 megahertz and the rest would be blocks of 10 megahertz.

Arcep also confirmed that it is ready to conduct the frequency allocation procedure, so that the first commercially available 5G services can be launched in 2020.

The regulator’s head Sebastien Soriano recently told French newspaper Le Figaro that the 5G auction would likely take place in April 2020.

The country’s four operators Orange, SFR, Iliad and Bouygues are all expected to take part in the upcoming 5G auction.

Arcep’s specifications stipulate that each operator must launch 5G services in at least two cities before the end of 2020. Each carrier should deploy 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 sites in 2024 and 10,500 sites by 2025.

Eventually, all of the cell sites must be providing a 5G service using frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band or other bands, according to the regulator.

Arcep also highlighted that it is proposing that 25% of 3.4-3.8 GHz band sites in the last two stages must be located in sparsely populated areas, targeting economic activity, notably manufacturing, excluding major metropolitan areas.

By 2022, at least 75% of cell sites must be capable of providing speeds of at least 240 Mbps at each site.

Arcep’s conditions also stipulate the obligation for carrier to deploy 5G to provide coverage in roadways across France.



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