France’s finance ministry agreed to conditions for the allocation of 5G-suitable frequencies set out by regulator ARCEP and established the starting price and payment terms for operators, removing the last hurdle to commencing the sale.

The process is expected to generate a minimum of €2.2 billion for the government, with each operator being offered 50MHz of 5G spectrum for €350 million. Additional blocks of 10MHz will be sold through an auction process, at a starting price of €70 million per allocation.

Specific coverage obligations are attached to the fixed sales and auction. Assuming the country’s four existing players take up their 50MHz fixed-price options, 11 lots of 10MHz will go through to the auction.

Payments for the fixed sale will be spread over 15 years, with costs for licences won in the auction paid over four. All spectrum falls within the 3.4GHz to 3.8GHz bands, identified as the core frequencies for 5G across the European Union.

In a translated statement, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, secretary of state to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (pictured), said the composition of the sale was “unprecedented in Europe” and, in return, France had placed “strong deployment obligations”.

Official notification of the decision will be published by the French government in the “coming days” with operators then given eight weeks to prepare formal application documents ahead of the sale.