In preparing for the allocation of 5G frequencies in autumn 2019, Arcep is continuing to work on releasing the 3.5 GHz band. To satisfy the regions’ connectivity needs, this band was made available to the stakeholders involved regional digital development, to deploy superfast wireless networks. As part of its ongoing dialogue with these stakeholders, today Arcep is launching a public consultation to identify those departments in Metropolitan France where superfast wireless network rollouts are still being planned.
The 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band hosting superfast wireless and 5G
Superfast wireless access refers to a wireless local loop network built to provide very high-speed fixed internet access. On 11 December 2017, Arcep created a single window devoted to the deployment of superfast wireless networks in the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band, to meet regional superfast connectivity needs under the Plan France THD superfast rollout scheme. As it stands, this window will remain open across the whole of France until 31 December 2019.
The roadmap that the Government and Arcep published in July 2018 set parallel objectives of allocating new 5G frequencies, and of launching the first 5G services in 2020. To this end, Arcep is preparing to allocate 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band frequencies for the commercial deployment of 5G mobile networks.
Arcep will keep the superfast wireless window open in departments with advanced-stage projects
In its public consultation on the allocation of new frequencies for 5G, held in late 2018, Arcep planned on accelerating the timetable for the superfast wireless window, setting the deadline for applications for the end of March 2019.
To reconcile the need to release a maximum amount of spectrum for 5G, starting in 2020, while maintaining frequencies for superfast wireless networks, Arcep plans on keeping the single window open in those departments whose superfast wireless network projects are in the advanced stages. If warranted, Arcep also plans to keep the window open for these projects beyond 31 December 2019, on a moderate scale. In the other departments, the frequencies will be put back into the 5G reserves.
Arcep asking stakeholders to provide details on their project’s current status
Arcep must therefore determine the departments in which superfast wireless networks should be deployed. The purpose of this public consultation is thus to allow stakeholders to provide Arcep with details on their rollout projects before 30 June 2019.
Contributors are invited to provide all of the elements needed to establish a status report on their project, and to specify the approximate date on which they will be able to file their application with the superfast wireless window.
Once this consultation is complete, and depending on the responses, Arcep will amend the frequency allocation rules for superfast wireless, to incorporate these changes into the timetable.