98% of the population will have access to 3G mobile telephony in 2011.Orange France and SFR ordered to meet their commitments.

Paris, 23 December 2009

In application of Article 109-V of the Law on modernising the economy (LME), of 4 August 2008, ARCEP has published a progress report on third generation (3G) mobile coverage. This progress report, which details the status of 3G coverage and its future extensions, comes to complete the status report on second generation (2G) mobile coverage that the Authority published on 7 August 2009.

All operators currently cover between 80% and 87% of the population with 3G access

This progress report provides an updated status of 3G coverage, as of 1 December 2009, for the country's three mobile operators. It includes a detailed description of the methodology applied and the methods used for verifying the reliability of the coverage maps in the field. Coverage maps, which are detailed by region, are also available.

As of 1 December 2009, Orange France provides 87%, SFR 81% and Bouygues Telecom 80% of the population of Metropolitan France with 3G coverage. In addition, the quality of service survey that ARCEP is currently performing reveals average access speeds of 2 to 3 Mbit/s, depending on the operator. The complete results of this survey will be published in Q1 2010.

Orange France and SFR have been ordered to meet their rollout obligations

This progress report also details the verification of 3G coverage obligations that Orange France and SFR were to achieve by 21 August 2009. At that time, Orange France and SFR covered 84% and 74% of the population, respectively.

These rates are below the rollout obligations listed in their licences, and which resulted from commitments made when they applied for their licence. As a result, Orange France and SFR have been ordered to meet their obligations. Orange France must therefore bring 3G coverage to 91% of the population by the end of 2010, and to 98% of the population by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, SFR must cover 84% of the population by 30 June 2010, 88% by the end of 2010, 98% by the end of 2011, and 99.3% of the population by the end of 2013. ARCEP published the two corresponding letters of formal notice today.

The next deadline for verifying Bouygues Telecom rollout obligations is at the end of 2010 and, in accordance with the commitments made by that operator, correspond to the 75% coverage of the population that it has already achieved.

In due time, ARCEP will also perform a careful verification to ensure that Free Mobile is meeting its rollout commitments, which are 27% of the population in 2012, 75% in 2015 and 90% in 2018.

3G coverage for 98% of the population before the end of 2011

All of the operators have the means to achieve 3G coverage that is equal to their 2G coverage. They can indeed rely on existing 2G sites and upgrade them to 3G. Moreover, the reuse for 3G of the 900 MHz band spectrum currently employed for 2G will make it easier to expand third-generation mobile telephony coverage.

Lastly, operators can also work to share their 3G network installations to a greater degree, to help step up their deployments. In accordance with ARCEP Decision No. 2009-0328, the country's operators will soon be signing a framework agreement on infrastructure sharing, with one another: ARCEP will work to ensure compliance with the process it put in place through its decision, as well as the fourth 3G operator's incorporation into the scheme under fair conditions.

With the exception of SFR - which, by achieving 3G coverage of 99.3% of the population, makes it analogous to the level of 2G coverage currently available in Metropolitan France - having all of the operators meet their obligations will still not result in 3G coverage that equals current 2G coverage levels.
Orange France has nevertheless confirmed with ARCEP that it plans on going beyond its obligations that correspond to 98% of the population, to achieve 3G coverage that is equal overall to 2G coverage.

For its part, Bouygues Telecom has indicated that it will be making a concerted effort in deploying its 3G network, to be able to achieve 3G coverage that is statistically equivalent to 2G coverage by 2015 (around 99% of the population).

ARCEP will continue to pay very close attention to the operators' ongoing 3G deployments.

The 3G progress report and the letters of formal notice are available, in French.


Linked documents

This documents are available only in French

Smiley The summary (pdf - 345 Ko) (343 Ko) Smiley

Smiley The summary and the report (pdf - 5.72 Mo) (without maps) (5,71 Mo) Smiley

Smiley The 3G progress report (pdf - 173 Mo) (173 Mo) Smiley

Smiley The coverage maps Smiley

Smiley The ARCEP's opinion 09-1065 (pdf - 330 Ko) Smiley

Smiley The ARCEP's opinion 09-1064 (pdf - 324 Ko) Smiley