France completes 5G auction

On 1 October 2020, the French regulator ARCEP announced the completion of the spectrum auction in the band 3.4-3.8 GHz. The total proceeds from the auction amount to € 2.786bn for the total of 310 MHz spectrum.

The regulator organised the award of 5G frequencies in two parts. The auction followed after the first 5G award in February 2020. At that time, ARCEP awarded to each of four operators one block of 50 MHz costing € 350m.

The four operators – Bouygues Telecom, Freemobile, Orange and SFR – qualified for the participation in the main auction, launched on 29 September.

The operators competed for 11 blocks of 10 MHz. However, each candidate could end up with a maximum of 100 MHz, including the 50 MHz from the first part.

In each bidding round, ARCEP set a price for a 10 MHz block and each bidder indicated the number of blocks (maximum five) they wanted to buy for that price. As soon as the number of blocks offered equalled the number of blocks demanded the round was closed and ARCEP increased the price of the 10 MHz block by a fixed increment of € 5m.

ARCEP could close the whole auction after only three days with a total of 17 bidding rounds. The operators ended up with the following spectrum awards (including 50 MHz from the first part in February):

Bouygues Telecom – 70 MHz for € 602m

Free Mobile – 70 MHz for € 602m

Orange – 90 MHz for € 854m

SFR – 80 MHz for € 728m

All licences will be valid for 15 years. The licensees will have to meet a set of coverage obligations, including highways and expressways, launch a certain number of base stations using the awarded frequencies and provide minimum defined speeds of mobile broadband.

Picture Copyright: Adobe Stock | SasinParaksa

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