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French 700MHz auction raises €2.796bn

France’s auction of spectrum in the 700MHz band has closed after two days and 11 rounds of bidding. Proceeds totalled €466 million for each block of 5MHz duplex, for a total of €2.796 billion euros.

The results are as follows:

  • Bouygues Telecom was awarded 1 block;
  • Free Mobile was awarded 2 blocks;
  • Orange was awarded 2 blocks;
  • SFR was awarded 1 block.

Each candidate’s position on the frequency band still needs to be determined.

The winning candidates are invited to submit their preferences to comms regulator ARCEP by 19 November, along with the price they are willing to pay for their first choice.

If they obtain their second choice, they will pay 2/3 of this amount. If they obtain their third choice, they will pay 1/3. If they obtain their last choice, they will pay nothing.

The results of this auction for slots will be added to the results of the main auction that has just closed.

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.

In Statement, Orange said it welcomed the results of the auction, suggesting it represented a major milestone for Orange’s development in France and was an essential industrial investment that would enable the Group to reinforce its position as a leader in very high-speed mobile broadband, allowing its retail and enterprise customers to benefit from 2020 and the following decade.

With over 90MHz of spectrum in total, Orange says it is strengthening its leadership position by holding the French market’s largest spectrum portfolio. Following the attribution of this new set of frequencies, Orange will be the only operator in France to hold 30MHz of low-range ‘golden’ frequencies.
These low-range frequencies, that are notable for their excellent propagation properties, will play a crucial role in the implementation of the Group’s Essentiels2020 strategic plan by enabling Orange to provide an outstanding customer experience at a time of exponential growth in network traffic. The 700MHz frequencies will be used in particular to reinforce the capacity and speed of the Group’s very high-speed mobile broadband network, particularly indoors and in rural areas, and to prepare for the introduction of 5G once this technology is available.
The total amount for the 10MHz of spectrum attributed to Orange is €932 million euros. This corresponds to the average amount paid for low-frequency 4G spectrum in major European countries, and is close to the amount paid by Orange for its 800MHz frequencies in 2011.

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