Arcep said it will offer temporary frequency permits for local telcos to carry out 5G trials in nine cities

French telecoms regulator Arcep said it will issue temporary frequency authorizations to develop 5G pilots in France.The regulator said it will offer spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band (3400 – 3800 MHz) in the metropolitan areas of Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Étienne, Douai, Montpellier and Grenoble. Other cities may be added in the coming months, Arcep said.

Interested parties are invited to contact Arcep if they plan on deploying networks in other frequency ranges, or in other geographical locations.

These 5G trials will allow Arcep to obtain initial feedback on the use of 5G networks. With the information obtained from future 5G trials, the regulator will pave the way for the allocation procedure for future 5G licences.

According to Arcep, 5G will be able to satisfy the connectivity needs of a wide variety of uses, from the public internet to critical industrial internet communications.

“Conducting 5G pilots should help deepen a general understanding of the systems for cohabitation between players, and test out business models: giving the entire 5G value chain the ability to tackle the issues surrounding these future networks under real world conditions, beyond simply obtaining a technical validation of network equipment,” the regulator said in a statement.

“Operators, as well as future professional users of the band, often referred to as verticals, should be able to work together on these pilots. Arcep’s ‘5G pilot’ window is open to any player interested in 5G and wanting to perform their first rollouts.”

The watchdog highlighted that the 3400 – 3800 MHz band is generally viewed as the core 5G band, as it offers large channels enabling high bitrates. The regulator said that this band has a certain degree of technological maturity and will be available in the near future in the vast majority of European countries. “The 26 GHz band will enable unprecedented speeds but it still lacks technological maturity but remains of great interest for the 5G ecosystem as it will open the way for disruptive technologies,” Arcep said.

Last month, the French economy and finance ministry said it was seeking stakeholder views on the government’s future strategy to facilitate the development of 5G services in the country. To achieve that goal, the government kicked off a consultative process, open until 16 February. The authorities also announced a workshop to explore the main questions listed in the consultation form on 8 February, aimed at operators, local authorities, consumer associations, and other industry players.

The French government said it expects to publish the national 5G strategy during the first quarter of 2018.

In October 2017, Arcep had granted local telco Free Mobile permission to carry out a 5G technical trial in Paris using the 3600 – 3700 MHz frequency band. The authorization was issued for a five-day period during that month.

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