Days after shelling out €854 million (US$1 billion) for 90MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, Orange France is readying its commercial offer for when it finally launches its 5G network in time for Christmas.
The operator has just unveiled a lineup of new offers that differentiate between its 4G and 5G smartphone plans. It's clear that Orange is positioning 5G as a premium offer that will cost more than 4G plans but include much larger inclusive mobile data allowances, relegating 4G to the low-cost league with smaller data pots.
The 5G plans also include an unlimited data offer for €94.99, or €79.99 for those that also subscribe to home broadband and TV services from Orange. This marks the first time that an unlimited mobile data plan has been offered in France, apart from the Free plan that offers unlimited data to customers that subscribe to both mobile and fixed broadband services.
The cheapest 5G plan, at €39.99 per month without any multiservice benefits, includes 70GB of mobile data. By comparison, the 70GB 4G plan costs €34.99. The 4G plans include between 5GB and 80GB for €16.99 and €44.99 per month, excluding discounts. There's also a 100MB plan that is clearly targeted at customers who don't really use their phones much.
Given the cost of the 5G spectrum, and recent hits as a consequence of COVID-19 lockdown measures, it is not surprising that operators such as Orange will now be looking to maximize the potential of their new high-speed networks.
The operator is also providing other incentives for its 5G offer, such as free multi-SIM cards for data sharing and six months' free access to the OCS video streaming service.
Late to the 5G party
As things stand, Orange's 5G network is not yet available in France. The operator indicated that it is targeting December for the launch of commercial 5G services. Ericsson and Nokia were selected earlier this year to deploy the 5G radio access network (RAN).
France has certainly not been quick off the mark with 5G. A recent Omdia comparison of 22 countries by their 5G progress puts France 18th, behind Switzerland, the UK, Finland, Germany, Italy and Spain. Only Singapore, India, Brazil and Indonesia do worse.
Altice Europe-owned SFR and Bouygues Telecom also indicate that 5G services will be launched in 2020 following the 5G auction. Iliad's Free is in the process of rolling out its 5G network in France, in collaboration with Nokia.
Bouygues Telecom and SFR, meanwhile, have been heavily dependent on Huawei for the deployment of their respective 4G networks and face some tough decisions ahead on their future 5G networks.
France has not explicitly banned the use of equipment from China-based suppliers in 5G, but it appears that licenses for Huawei kit will not be renewed by ANSSI, France's cybersecurity agency, when they are due to expire.
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- Huawei Belle Époque in France to end in 2028
- France unlikely to ban Huawei, but will encourage operators to steer clear
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading