Paris, 27 July 2010
The four mobile operators in France have finalised their 3G mobile network sharing scheme: its implementation should make it possible to achieve 3G coverage comparable to current 2G coverage levels by the end of 2013
Pursuant to the Law on modernising the economy (LME), on 9 April 2009 ARCEP adopted Decision No. 2009-0328 which provides for the implementation of a 3G network sharing scheme between operators in mainland France.
Within this framework, the four mobile network operators in Metropolitan France signed a 3G mobile network sharing agreement on 23 July 2010, which extends the network-sharing agreement signed on 11 February of this year by operators Orange France, SFR and Bouygues Telecom to new entrant Free Mobile.
The agreement concerns the most sparsely populated parts of the country, most notably those included in the national programme to bring 2G mobile coverage to dead zones.
It allows the three incumbent mobile operators to deploy a shared 3G radio access network (RAN sharing), while Free Mobile, which has not yet begun to market its mobile network, will join the network on a different timetable.
The purpose of this agreement is not to open up 3G roaming rights at the national level.
It is now up to the operators to begin deploying the shared 3G network that will make it possible to achieve 3G coverage which is comparable to current 2G coverage levels by 2013, i.e. around 99.8% of the population.
ARCEP is launching a public consultation on the terms and methods for allocating 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum to enable the deployment of ultra high-speed 4G mobile networks
As a substantial portion of the country will be covered by 3G by the end of 2013, we are looking ahead to the next stage, namely the rollout of new generation networks in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands, to enable the deployment of ultra-high speed mobile services.
As a result, today ARCEP is launching a public consultation on the terms and methods for allocating 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum for the deployment of ultra high-speed mobile networks.
This consultation marks the latest stage in the concerted efforts that ARCEP has been engaged in for several months, in tandem with stakeholders, which have included an initial public consultation in 2009 and a series of hearings in spring 2010. ARCEP also addressed the Parliamentary Committee on the digital dividend which is due to issue an opinion on the terms and methods to be used for allocating 800 MHz band spectrum, in accordance with Article L. 42-2 of the French Postal and electronic communications code.
These efforts have enabled ARCEP to fine tune its views on the most appropriate means of allocating the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands. At this stage, because of the significance of what is at stake and the extent to which market players have explored this issue, since the public consultation in 2009, and in light of its obligation to be transparent about the terms and conditions for allocating these frequency bands, the Authority is keen to solicit the opinions and obtain feedback from all interested parties on the possible terms and methods to be used for awarding 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz-band spectrum.
Players are invited to submit their contribution by 13 September 2010.
The responses obtained from stakeholders will allow ARCEP to finalize the proposals that it is due to produce in early autumn, and which will be submitted to the government, with a view to launching allocation procedures by the end of 2010, after having obtained the opinion of the Committee on the digital dividend. The actual award of the licences to use the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands will take place between spring and early summer 2011.