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5G

French government itching for 5G action

Junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Le Figaro that the French government is urging telecoms regulator Arcep to start an auction of 5G-friendly frequencies in September.

The aim is to see commercial launch of the next-gen tech before the year's out.

"Our objective, and I have communicated it to Arcep, is that the auctions be launched quickly," she told the newspaper in an interview, as quoted by Reuters. "September is a reasonable objective ... for a launch of 5G before the end of the year."

An auction of 310MHz airwaves in the highly sought after 3.4–3.8GHz frequency band – the European Commission has the habit of calling it a 5G "pioneering" band in Europe – was originally scheduled for April. The coronavirus pandemic put those plans on hold, however.

Orange, the country's largest mobile operator, is likely to be comfortable with the auction timetable. Group CEO Stéphane Richard, in a radio interview at the end of April, said he was "fine" for frequencies to go under the hammer in either September or October.

Bouygues Telecom seems less easy. In a Reuters report a couple of weeks back, it was saying that the auction of 5G license concessions should be late 2020, or even sometime early next year, because of uncertainties surrounding COVID-19.

"We need to push back the auction date simply because the economic world today is not the same as it was early March, when the terms of the auction were set," said Martin Bouygues, CEO of Bouygues Group.

Other countries in Europe that have seen spectrum delays caused by COVID-19 include Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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