ARCEP begins a round of analysis and experimentation on the utilisation of the 3400 – 3600 MHz and 2570 – 2620 MHz bands, and authorises two trials

Paris, 30th March 2016

ARCEP to launch a public consultation in the coming weeks

After having assigned the 700 MHz band in 2015, ARCEP is currently working on the forthcoming frequency allocations that will be taking place over the next two years.

Three frequency bands are of particular interest to various stakeholders: the 1452 –1492 MHz band (aka the L band), the 3400 – 3600 MHz (aka 3.5 GHz) band and the 2570 – 2620 MHz (aka 2.6 GHz TDD) band.

Several utilisations are possible for the 3.5 GHz and 2.6 GHz TDD bands in particular, notably:
- enabling mobile operators to deliver increasingly fast connections;
- increasing throughput on wireless local loop (WLL) networks, designed to provide fixed internet access over radio channels to people living in rural areas where the copper network supplies only limited connection speeds;
- the deployment of professional mobile radio networks (PMR);
- the development of the Internet of Things.

ARCEP will be launching a public consultation in the coming weeks whose purpose is to establish the scheme that will be used for sharing the 3.5 GHz and 2.6 GHz TDD bands between the different possible utilisations, and the terms and conditions for allocating available spectrum resources. New frequency assignments could take place in 2017.

ARCEP encourages trials in the 3.5 GHz and 2.6 GHz TDD bands

Alongside the public consultation and preparations for an assignment procedure, ARCEP is calling on interested parties to conduct trials in these bands. To do so, they must address their request for an authorisation to ARCEP. The Authority hopes that this will help stimulate innovation in every possible area of application for these frequency bands.

A further imperative is to ensure that the technologies identified for modernising WLL networks will match expectations, and can find a viable development model. Indeed, the many WLL licences that ARCEP has granted in the 3.5 GHz band since 2003 have resulted in very limited rollouts, even though the assignment procedures at the time had attracted a great deal of interest. A detailed analysis therefore needs to be performed on the cost and performance of the different planned technologies, and notably LTE, to be able to assess whether these solutions can be included in local authorities’ digital policies in the medium term.

To this end, last week ARCEP authorised two trials in the 2.6 GHz TDD band:
- operator Xilan has been authorised to use 20 MHz for five months to conduct LTE WLL trials in the Pas-de-Calais;
- the firm Splitted-Desktop Systems has been authorised to use 30 MHz for five months to conduct trials on innovative mobile networks in the Essonne.

ARCEP invites all interested parties to submit their frequency requests to be able to conduct similar trials over the course of 2016. ARCEP will ask the players carrying out experiments in these frequencies to provide the Authority with reports before the end of the year, which will help complete its work on the future of the 2.6 GHz TDD and 3.5 GHz bands.