The increasing spread of the coronavirus has forced France to pause the auction of 5G spectrums after a lockdown was ordered by French President Emmanuel Macron to avoid any further spread of COVID-19 cases. French regulator Arcep advised that current events are making it impossible to move forward with the sale of the 5G spectrum, which was originally scheduled for March. Per Arcep, the sale will be rescheduled once further information is provided with the ongoing epidemic.
On March 17, Thomas Reynaud, the CEO of French carrier Illiad stated the company would be placing a hold on the auction and has no plan of changing the rollout of 5G by the end of this year. Spectrum sales are expected to be at least 2.17 billion euros, as confirmed by the French government. Originally, in November of 2019, per Arcep, the granted frequencies are between 3.4-3.8 GHz, and the allotments are for 310 MHz of the spectrum. The allotments will include four blocks of 50 MHz, and the rest would be in blocks of 10 MHz.
Arcep specified France’s four operators, Orange, SFR, Illiad, and Bouygues, must provide 5G services in at least two cities before the end of this year. Each carrier is expected to roll out service to 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 in 2024, and 10,500 sites by 2025. In the last two stages of the proposal by Arcep, 25% of 3.4-3.8 GHz must be located sparingly in populated areas, target economic activity, particularly manufacturing and exclude metropolitan areas. All the cell sites required must provide 5G services, and by 2022 at least 75% of them should facilitate 240 Mbps. Arcep also requested that 5G should be provided in roadways across France.