French regulator Arcep outlined rules for its auction of 5G-suitable frequencies, which will be held in the Autumn ahead of commercial launches in 2020.

It opened a public consultation for the allocation of spectrum in the 3.4GHz to 3.8GHz range, which runs until 4 September. Arcep will then look to adopt contributions into its terms and conditions, before submitting a proposal to the government.

The regulator said frequencies would be allocated for 15 years, with a possible extension of five years.

Two-part process
Its tender will run in two parts. Operators will first be required to make a series of commitments which will allow them to apply for a chunk of spectrum at a fixed price. The size of the block available in this phase will be at least 40MHz per operator. Obligations include coverage targets and the delivery of speeds of at least 240Mb/s at each cell site.

By 2022, at least 75 per cent of an operator’s footprint must be 5G-capable, rising to 100 per cent by 2030. They should also launch 5G services in at least two cities before the end of 2020.

Operators are also invited to make a series of optional commitments, which could aid their bids for the fixed-price blocks.

The second part of the process will run like a traditional auction, allowing operators to bid for frequencies still available following the first phase.

Arcep said the French government had detailed objectives for it to pursue when drafting specifications for 3.4GHz to 3.8GHz band allocations. These objectives require Arcep to ensure 5G services benefits everyone across the country and allow at least four operators to provide 5G services under good conditions.

France’s main operators Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Iliad are expected to compete in the auction.