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France: ARCEP welcomes bids for 700MHz frequencies

On July 2nd, regulator ARCEP adopted the decision that proposed to the French Minister responsible for Electronic Communications the methods and terms for allocating frequencies within the 700 MHz band. Now, Emmanuel Macron, France’s Minister for the Economy, and Axelle Lemaire, State Secretary in charge of the Digital Economy, are issuing their invitation to tender based on this decision.

The frequencies will be allocated through a multi-round ascending auction for six 2 × 5 MHz blocks.

There are several objectives attached to the procedure:

Monetising intangible State assets: the Government has set a reserve price of 700 MHz band frequencies416 million per 2 × 5 MHz block, or 2.5 billion euros for the entire band.

Stimulating investment and regional development: The licences will include coverage obligations as strong as those attached to the 800 MHz band, as well as new obligations pertaining to on-board coverage of everyday trains.

Effective and fair competition: all mobile operators are able to obtain frequencies through a transparent procedure that allows them to manage their outcome. In addition, to limit spectrum imbalances between operators, a single candidate cannot acquire more than 2 × 15 MHz in the 700 MHz band or more than 2 × 30 MHz of low frequency spectrum.

Interested parties are invited to submit their application to ARCEP before 12 pm on September 29th 2015. ARCEP plans to conduct the auction and to award the licences to the winning candidates before the end of 2015.

The 700 MHz band is currently being used by DTT services. The Government decided that, with improvements to DTT compression standards, it was possible to free up the 700 MHz band, and to allocate 2 × 30 MHz to mobile operators to enable them to keep pace with the exponential increase in mobile data traffic. This band will be freed up progressively across the country between 2016 and 2019.


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