Arcep says 5G services could be launched in France by 2018

Arcep, the communications regulator in France, has suggested 5G services could launch in France in 2018 after publishing responses to its public consultation.

The authority wishes to begin frequency allocations in the 3.5 GHz and 2.6 GHz bands this year “to satisfy the urgent needs that were expressed regarding fixed superfast internet access and professional mobile radio services.”

Arcep also expressed a desire to ‘immediately’ prepare the launch of 5G mobile networks in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band, making ‘the vast majority’ of the band available to market players.

Going with the public consultation, Arcep will upgrade professional mobile radio (PMR) networks, between the 2.5 and 2.6 GHz, to superfast systems, as well as using a portion of 3.5 GHz band frequencies to upgrade wireless local loop (WLL) networks to superfast.

The list of parties which responded to the consultation represent something of a who’s who of telecoms, from the GSMA, to Ericsson to Huawei, Nokia, and Orange. The latter has been involved with the middle three in trialling 5G technology in France, saying at the time of the Huawei partnership in February that “preparing network evolution from 4G to 5G is key for Orange”, while also being noted by research firm Analysys Mason earlier this month as having a high market share in France but a relatively low rate of customer churn.

Arcep aims to contact each player with a license in the 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band ‘without delay’, and has cited Grenoble, Le Havre, Lille, Lyon, Nantes and Saint Etienne as cities where the initial 5G trials could be undertaken. “Arcep wants to allow any players that so request to be able to conduct 5G trials rapidly,” the regulator wrote.

You can read a synopsis of the consultation here.

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