French operator Orange expects to launch its commercial 5G services in 15 municipalities on December 3, the operator said in a release.
Some of the cities where the 5G service will be initially available are Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers and Clermont Ferrand. By the end of 2020, more than 160 municipalities will be covered with 5G.
The operator said that the service will be offered though frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band.
Stéphane Richard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the group, said: “This new technology is a breakthrough innovation that will allow all of our customers, both individuals and businesses to benefit from unprecedented quality of service and to develop new uses. The deployment will be done gradually and in a constructive dialogue with all local authorities, in parallel with our efforts to expand coverage of the French territory in 4G.”
Orange recently obtained 90 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. The telco said that its upcoming 5G deployment focuses mainly on these new 3.5 GHz frequencies and may be supplemented by the use of 2.1 GHz frequencies.
The operator said it has chosen to initially cover areas that are already heavily used in order to avoid any risk of saturation.
Rival operator Bouygues Telecom recently confirmed it expects to launch its commercial 5G network on December 1.
The company also said that it expects to reach nationwide coverage with its 5G network within a year.
To roll-out its 5G network, Bouygues Telecom has decided simultaneously to install new antennas, using the newly acquired 3.5 GHz frequency band, and to gradually migrate existing 4G frequency bands to 5G.
Also, SFR recently announced the availability of its 5G service in the city of Nice. SFR’s Director Alain Weill said that upon the initial deployment, 50% of the population of Nice was covered by 5G, and that within several weeks, 80% will be covered. Looking further ahead, SFR has plans to deliver 5G services to Montpellier, Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille and Paris Ile-de-France.
The main auction for 3.4 GHz to 3.8 GHz frequencies for the provision of 5G in France was completed in early October.
In this spectrum auction, local operators Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad committed to pay a total of 2.8 billion euros for a total of 11 blocks of 10 megahertz of spectrum.
Telecom regulator Arcep’s specifications for the 5G auction stipulate that each operator must launch 5G services in at least two cities before the end of 2020. Each carrier should deploy 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 sites in 2024 and 10,500 sites by 2025.
Eventually, all of the cell sites must provide a 5G service using frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band or other bands, according to the regulator.
Arcep also proposed that 25% of 3.4-3.8 GHz band sites in the last two stages must be located in sparsely populated areas, targeting economic activity, notably manufacturing, excluding major metropolitan areas.
By 2022, at least 75% of cell sites must be capable of providing speeds of at least 240 Mbps at each site.