The companies Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR have all qualified to participate in the auction for 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band frequencies. The auctions have been postponed due to the current health crisis.

The procedure for awarding licences to use 3.4 ‑– 3.8 GHz band frequencies in Metropolitan France was launched in late 2019, and all four of mainland France’s national mobile network operators submitted a bid package by the 25 February 2020 deadline.

After having examined these bid packages, Arcep concluded that:

  • The four candidates were qualified;
  • The four candidates had made the commitments set out in the specifications, and each will be able to obtain a block of 50 MHz at the end of this procedure, for the sum of €350M.

All four candidates are now authorised to participate in the auction stage, during which the 11 blocks of 10 MHz that remain available in the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band will be awarded.

The current Covid-19 crisis has made it impossible to perform the physical preparations necessary to hold this auction, which was initially scheduled for the month of April. The auction must therefore be postponed, and the current crisis will dictate the duration of the postponement. Arcep will set the new auction date according to how the current crisis evolves.

In the meantime, Arcep continues to work on the societal and environmental issues caused by digital technology and these mobile networks’ ongoing development.

Associated document

Annex: Commitments made by the candidates

The commitments that the four candidates made in exchange for 50 MHz of spectrum are as follows:

  • 5G to foster competitiveness in other sectors of the French economy

To lay the groundwork for enterprises’ future connectivity, Arcep has established an unprecedented mechanism that would have operators commit to granting reasonable requests from economic actors (business, local authorities, administrations…)by providing them with customised solutions in terms of coverage and performance or, if the operator prefers, by assigning its frequencies locally.

  • Indoor coverage

Arcep has also provided for commitments that seek to improve indoor coveragefor business and commercial purposes, and to facilitate coverage by multiple operators.

  • Fixed access products

Commitments also concern the supply of dedicated fixed access products on mobile networks.

  • Greater transparency

The commitments include increasing operators’ transparency, both on their rollout forecasts and service outages.

  • Bolster innovation and competition

Lastly, commitments are proposed to improve MVNO hosting on operators’ 5G networks, in particular to stimulate innovation from all the sector’s players.