French telecommunications regulator Arcep has launched a public consultation on its draft procedure for awarding licenses to use frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band in France.
Arcep said that this spectrum band had been identified in Europe as the “core” 5G band.
The regulator said that the contributions to this public consultation, which will run until September 4th, will enable Arcep to finalize the procedure and the terms of allocation. Arcep will then submit its final text to the French government in the following weeks, with a view to allocating frequencies in the autumn.
“Thanks to a combination of its physical properties and the amount of spectrum available, this band provides a good trade-off between coverage and speed. Use of this core band will be completed by other bands of varying properties, each of which will help unleash the full potential of 5G. These include the 700 MHz band, which was already allocated to operators in France in 2015, and the 26 GHz band, which will be allocated at a later date,” Arcep said in a release.
In the draft document being submitted for public consultation, Arcep initially aims to allocate 310 megahertz of frequencies, covering metropolitan France.
Arcep is proposing a two-part allocation procedure that is not based solely on financial bids. The procedure will include a first part, whereby up to four operators will be able to obtain additional blocks of spectrum in exchange for additional commitments, before the auctions carried out in the second part would allow them to obtain additional frequencies.
Arcep is also planning to set a cap on the total amount of spectrum any one applicant can obtain during the two phases of the process. The planned minimum will be at least equal to 40 megahertz, while the planned maximum is 100 megahertz.
Arcep’s draft procedure stipulates that all applicants will be subject to a series of obligations, particularly with respect to regional coverage. Arcep proposes to require that each operator launch 5G services in at least two cities before the end of 2020, and to then impose a demanding trajectory to support the deployment of 3.4-3.8 GHz band equipment during the following years: 3,000 sites in 2022; 8,000 sites in 2024; and 12,000 sites in 2025.
By 2022, at least 75% of cell sites must be 5G-capable, a figure that will rise to 100% by 2030, the regulator said.
The regulator is also planning to introduce a mechanism to ensure that non-urban areas will also benefit from these rollouts.
Obligations that apply specifically to transport corridors are also planned in the process, with two main targets: coverage of the country’s motorways (16,642 km) by 2025 and coverage of the main roadways (54,913 km) by 2027.
Also, to accelerate the transition to the IPv6 routing protocol, Arcep has planned for an obligation to make mobile networks IPv6-compatible.