French mobile operator Free Mobile, a subsidiary of Illiad, said its 5G footprint currently covers 77% of the population, up from 52% in May 2021.
Free Mobile said that its 5G network currently reaches 9,100 municipalities across France. It also said the firm had already deployed a total of 12,000 5G sites, including 2,514 5G sites using 3.5 GHz frequencies.
For its 5G network, Free Mobile uses frequencies in the 700 MHz band as well as frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band which Free acquired in a French spectrum auction in 2020.
The operator said that its current spectrum enables broad coverage and good indoor reception thanks to low-band frequencies at 700 MHz, as well as “ultra-fast” speeds, thanks to 70 megahertz in the midband at 3.5 GHz.
Free Mobile launched its 5G network in December 2020 with 5,255 active sites.
Including all mobile technologies, the French telco currently operates 21,600 sites across France.
“Free Mobile is keeping up its fast pace of rollouts and aims to have more than 25,000 sites throughout France by 2023. Its rollout effort encompasses the whole country, including the most rural areas,” the telco said. “Since signing up to the French government’s ‘New Deal for Mobile’, Free Mobile has built over 5,000 new sites in areas that had little or no mobile coverage before.”
France had a total of 31,650 authorized 5G sites as of January 1, of which 22,180 were declared technically operational by the local mobile carriers, according to the latest information provided by France’s spectrum agency ANFR.
ANFR said that the number of authorized 5G sites during December increased by 2.2% compared to the previous month.
The agency said that almost all of the 5G sites have been authorized on existing cellular sites, already used by 2G, 3G or 4G technologies.
In France, mobile operators are already providing 5G services through the 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands.
ANFR said that a total of 18,929 sites are authorized in the 700 MHz band (Free Mobile), of which 13,504 are already technically operational. Also, ANFR said that 12,486 sites are authorized in the 2.1 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), but 7,433 are technically operational.
Meanwhile, 15,208 sites are authorized in the 3.5 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR), of which 9,185 are declared technically operational.