ARCEP publishes the results of the allocation procedure for 4G mobile  licences in the 800 MHz band (the digital dividend)

Paris, 22 December 2011

Today ARCEP is publishing the results of the awards procedure for licences to use the 800 MHz frequency band.

These frequencies are to be used in the deployment of new-generation (4G) mobile networks which will provide ultra high-speed access to the mobile internet. They will allow operators to supply users with connections that are significantly faster than currently available 3G connections, as the maximum data rate will be at least 60 Mbps.

On 15 December 2011, ARCEP received applications for licences in the 800 MHz band from four undertakings, which it then examined in accordance with the rules stipulated in the call for applications that was issued on 15 June 2011.

Licences will be awarded to Bouygues Telecom, Orange France and SFR

ARCEP performed its selection based on the three criteria listed in the call for applications: a regional development commitment, a commitment to host mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and the financial amount bid for the frequencies.

On the basis of the offers submitted by the candidates, the results of the procedure are as follows:

791 MHz                         801 MHz                                    811 MHz             821 MHz

832 MHz                         842 MHz                                    852MHz                862 MHz

Bouygues Telecom

SFR

Orange France

Block A

Blocks B + C

Block D

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The following table provides details on the offers made by each of the successful bidders:

License recipient

Spectrum awarded

Financial bid

Commitment to host MVNOs

Regional development commitment

Bouygues Telecom

Block A

(10 MHz duplex)

€683,087,000

Yes

Yes

SFR

Blocks B+C

(10 MHz duplex)

€ 1,065,000,000

Yes

Yes

Orange France

Block D

(10 MHz duplex)

€ 891,000,005

Yes

Yes

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The company Free Fréquences, whose application was eligible and qualified, was not among the candidates selected for a licence due to the offers submitted by the other applicants.

In early January, ARCEP will issue the winning applicants with licences to use spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band.

Free Mobile will have roaming rights in the 800 MHz band in priority rollout areas

The firm Free Mobile, which is a shareholder in Free Fréquences whose application for 800 MHz band spectrum was eligible and qualifiedView, and which has been awarded spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band, has satisfied the criteria set in the call for applications allowing it to enjoy roaming rights in the 800 MHz band, to be able to cover a priority rollout area made up of the most sparsely populated parts of France.

Free Mobile will therefore be able to apply for roaming rights from SFR whose licence includes two blocks of spectrum in the 800 MHz band. As a result, Free Mobile will legally be able to make use of these rights once its own 2.6 GHz-band network covers 25% of the population.

The procedure made it possible to achieve the three objectives set for 4G spectrum awards

Regional development was the top priority set for the allocation of the 800 MHz band resulting from the digital dividend. The selected operators are subject to a very ambitious roadmap whose ultimate target is coverage of at least 99.6% of the population of mainland France. In addition, for the first time ever with mobile licences, operators are also subject to specific regional coverage targets: first, they must have covered 95% of each department by the set deadline and, second, must commit to an accelerated rollout schedule in the most sparsely populated parts of the country. These very significant regional development obligations have not been set in any other country where 4G spectrum has been allocated.

Mobile market competition has also been consolidated as a result of these two 4G licence award procedures, which will be beneficial to consumers. First, each of the four existing mobile operators were able to obtain a quantity of spectrum (20, 25 or 30 MHz duplex) that will enable them to deploy 4G services and improve the capacity and quality of their network. Second, they will enjoy either direct or indirect (via roaming) access to the low frequencies of the 800 MHz band, which will allow them to achieve broad nationwide coverage. In addition, all of the bidders for 4G licences made substantial commitments to host virtual network operators, under the full MVNO model, on their entire ultra high-speed mobile network.

And, finally, the allocation of 800 MHz-band spectrum enabled a good monetisation of the public asset that is radio spectrum, bringing in a total €2,639 million (compared to the reserve price of €1.8 billion). This in addition to the €936 million already obtained from the allocation of the 2.6 GHz band, which means a total income for the State budget of close to €3.6 billion, compared to the reserve price of €2.5 billion.


Linked documents

Smiley Décision n° 2011-1510 de l’Arcep en date du 22 décembre 2011 (pdf - 472 Ko) relative au compte rendu et au résultat de la procédure d’attribution d’autorisations d’utilisation de fréquences dans la bande 800 MHz en France métropolitaine pour établir et exploiter un réseau radioélectrique mobile ouvert au public Smiley  Smiley