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French procedures for 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz allocations

Pauline Le Bousse

19 May 2011

Draft decisions on procedures for allocating 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz for 4G mobile terrestrial services are now available in French on the ARCEP website.

Draft decisions on procedures for allocating 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz for 4G mobile terrestrial services are now available in French on the ARCEP website. According to the French telecoms regulator, these actions are the result of two years of consultation and discussion with stakeholders.

ARCEP has already cleared the drafts with the French Parliament’s digital dividend committee and now seeks review by an Electronic communications advisory committee (CCCE) of the 16 May drafts. The CCCE will examine the texts on 30 May, after which they will be sent to the French Government for approval. For both bands, ARCEP prepared a draft decision for the technical rules for the frequencies 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz (both PDFs of about 100 KB) and a draft decision for the award process and license conditions that will apply to the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum (both PDFs of 600 and 300 KB). Following Minister approval and issuance of the texts, ARCEP will issue calls for applications. Licences for the 2.6 GHz could then be awarded in autumn 2011 and 800 MHz in early 2012.

The draft decisions provide that FDD 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequencies will be allocated through two successive calls for applications in order to permit operators to develop a coordinated strategy. TDD 2.6 GHz frequencies will be allocated in 2012 once licences for FDD frequencies have been delivered.

ARCEP developed draft terms and conditions for these 4G licences to achieve the three main objectives of digital regional development, fair and effective competition and monetization of the spectrum.

For digital regional development, the draft 800 MHz rules would provide ambitious coverage targets both at the national and departmental level. In addition, operators would be encouraged to rely on network and frequency-sharing arrangements in sparsely populated regions. No equivalent measures would apply, however, for the 2.6 GHz frequencies.

For ensuring competition, spectrum caps would apply in both bands that limit awards to a 15 MHz duplex in the 800 MHz band and 30 MHz duplex in the 2.6 GHz band. In addition, if there are four eligible candidates for the 2.6 GHz frequencies, each operator is guaranteed to receive a 15 MHz duplex. Applicants are also “invited” to commit to working with MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) as a selection criterion.

For “monetizing” the spectrum, another important selection criterion is the amount that candidates bid on frequencies. Reserve prices have been planned for the different lots to be allocated in the two bands. French Digital Minister Eric Besson announced that the total reserve price for the different lots of 800 MHz is €1.8 million and €700,000 for 2.6 GHz frequencies, resulting in €2.5 million total for the 4G frequencies.

Pauline Le Bousse

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