Paris, 2nd February 2016
Deadline for applications: 10 May 2016
To bring superfast access to mobile internet services, through the deployment of 4G networks in France's overseas markets, Arcep proposed to the Government that it issue a call for applications in Guadeloupe, Guyana, Réunion Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy. The Government issued these calls for applications on Friday, 29 January 2016.
The purpose of this process is to allocate spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands that remains unassigned in these overseas markets, along with still available spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.1 GHz bands. These allocations will give operators the means to deploy 4G and to continue to develop their 3G networks.
The deadline for submitting an application with Arcep has been set for 12 pm on 10 May 2016.
This allocation procedure will satisfy several objectives.
Arcep made careful study of the situation in each of the overseas markets to choose the most suitable allocation procedure.
To continue to increase the availability of mobile products and services in these overseas markets, where digital connectivity services are already more expensive than in Mainland France, Arcep and the Government decided not to allocate the frequencies through an auction procedure. Applicants will therefore be scored, market by market, on five, non-financial selection criteria:
- the project's consistency and feasibility,
- consistency and feasibility of the business plan,
- digital regional development considerations,
- contribution to stimulating the market,
- job creation and investment.
Based on these considerations, Arcep could select a maximum four operators in each market. Depending on the location, there are currently three or four mobile operators in each of these markets.
The licences will contain strong rollout obligations. In particular, specific obligations have been introduced for Guyana to improve coverage of the two trunk roads, RN1 and RN2.
4G could be launched in all French overseas markets as early as 2016
Arcep plans on completing the allocation procedure in 2016. It will issue licences to the winning operators which will then be able to roll out 4G services before the end of the year.
On the specific matter of Réunion and Mayotte, Arcep decided to provide a framework for commercial 4G rollouts, and to set a launch date of 1 December 2016. Competition has been particularly fragile in these markets since SRR and Outremer Telecom merged in late 2014. A new operator emerged following an injunction that the Competition Authority issued to SFR-Numericable to divest itself of the Outremer Telecom mobile business.
To maintain a lasting market structure of at least three operators, which is vital to ensuring these markets are competitive, that investments continue to increase and a more diverse selection of products and services becomes available, Arcep and the Government decided that the launch date for 4G should be postponed for several months, i.e. until 1 December 2016.