French communications regulator Arcep opened applications for its sale of 5G suitable frequencies, with operators given a deadline of 25 February to complete the relevant paperwork.

The notification was published at the turn of 2020 and followed confirmation of pricing and terms released by authorities in mid-December.

Under the structure of the sale, France’s four existing operators will be offered 50MHz in the 3.4GHz to 3.8GHz bands at a fixed price of €350 million each. Further blocks of 10MHz will then be sold in an auction with a starting price for each lot of €70 million.

Authorities expect to raise at least €2.2 billion between the fixed sale and auction.

All sales are subject to operators making strict commitments on coverage, with licences lasting for an initial term of 15 years.

In a statement, Arcep said it expects to issue licences during the first half of the year.

France is the only one of the five most populous European Union countries not to have a 5G service commercially available, with operators in Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy launching in major urban hubs last year.