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French 5G Spectrum Sale Increases EUR 2.79 Billion

The final stage of the French 5G spectrum tender ended on 01 October. 

It is completing the sale of 310 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band. 

Telecom regulator Arcep said that proceeds amounted to EUR 2.79 billion, which compares with the floor price of EUR 2.17 billion set by the government at the end of last year. 

Market leader Orange accounted for the highest spend, at EUR 854 million for 90 MHz of spectrum.

Altice France subsidiary SFR acquired 80 MHz for EUR 728 million, while Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile both secured 70 MHz for EUR 602 million.

The French government

In the first phase of the award, the French government had agreed to sell 200 MHz at a set price of EUR 1.4 billion.

With each of the four network operators spending EUR 350 million for a block of 50 MHz. 

After a pause due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the regulator was asked to oversee an auction for the remaining 110 MHz of spectrum available.

It is sold in equal-size chunks (10 MHz) at a starting price of EUR 70 million per block.

Source: Pinterest

Bidding lasted just three days, with the unit price rising from EUR 70 million to EUR 126 million by the end of the final round. 

In addition to the initial 50 MHz, Orange secured the most spectrum in the auction (40 MHz), followed by SFR (30 MHz). 

Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile were each attributed two blocks (20 MHz).

French 5G Spectrum acquired in the auction will have to be paid for over four years. 

The set price of EUR 350 million will be spread over the fifteen-year duration of the licences, which can be extended by a further five years under conditions set by Arcep. 

The final amount spent in the tender will be known at the completion of the last step of the award process.

In this, the four participants will bid in a “positioning” auction to determine where their spectrum will be placed in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band.

French operators will also be able to rely on other frequencies for their 5G deployments. 

These include the 700 MHz band, which was awarded by Arcep in 2015, and in future 26 GHz frequencies, still to be allocated.

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