On December 17th last, Arcep announced that it had agreed with the authorities on the specifications for the future 5G call for tenders. To afford the first 50 MHz blocks in the 3.5 GHz band, each operator will have to pay the fixed sum of 350 million euros but also meet the various commitments set by the authorities.
The remaining 110 MHz, in the band concerned, will be auctioned in blocks of 10 MHz. The starting price for the latter was set at €70 million. However, this should not be the business of operators. Indeed, they were campaigning for the authority not to set too high amounts in order to allow them to invest more heavily in the deployment of their future 5G networks.
The authorities should therefore obtain from this call for tenders, at least, a total sum of "2.17 billion euros for all the frequencies allocated". However, they have not been greedy in the light of the various 5G auctions organised by our neighbours, such as in Germany or Italy.
The specifications should be published in the coming days and will officially launch the award procedure conducted by Arcep. Candidate operators will then have eight weeks to prepare their application files.
Applicants will not be able to obtain less than 40 MHz of frequencies and will therefore not be able to obtain more than 100 MHz of frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band. The frequencies will be allocated for a period of 15 years and may be extended for a further 5 years if there is a subsequent agreement between the authorities and the operators concerned.
The examination of the applications submitted by the candidates should start in March. The Arcep will make its arbitrations and allocate the first fixed blocks of 5G frequencies at the end of March. The actual auctions will take place in May, while the procedure will be finalised in June.
However, the obligations on operators will not change. As initially planned by Arcep, the specifications provide for the opening of 5G in at least two cities per operator before the end of 2020. Subsequently, operators will be forced to deploy their services on 3,000 sites in 2022, 8,000 sites in 2024 and finally 10,500 sites in 2025.
But let's not forget the rural areas. Thus, 25% of the sites in the 3.5 GHz band "of the last two milestones will have to be deployed in an area bringing together municipalities in sparsely populated areas and those in industrial areas, outside the main urban areas", Arcep said.
The Authority also states that "from 2022 onwards, at least 75% of the sites must have a throughput of at least 240 Mbit/s at each site. This obligation will gradually be extended to all sites until 2030".
In addition, as provided for in European texts, roads are also a priority. Coverage of motorway-type roads will thus have to be ensured in 2025, before coverage of the main roads is planned for 2027.
Operators will also have to undertake to respond to "reasonable" requests from companies and public authorities, in order to provide them with "appropriate offers with coverage and performance, or, if the operator prefers, by entrusting them with its frequencies locally".
The authorities are demanding more cooperation between operators in order to ensure better indoor coverage of buildings and to ensure greater transparency on their deployment forecasts and breakdowns. Finally, operators will also have to undertake to welcome MVNOs to their respective networks "in order in particular to encourage innovation by all actors in the sector".
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Source : ZDNet