French regulator green lights Orange, SFR spectrum refarming

French regulator green lights Orange, SFR spectrum refarming

31 JUL 2015

France’s Arcep authorised Orange and SFR to reuse their 1800 MHz bands for 4G from next year, so long as they give up some of the spectrum to smaller rival Free Mobile.

The move follows an earlier decision by the regulator that enabled smaller rival Bouygues Telecom to refarm its 1800 MHz allocation for 4G in May 2013.

In exchange, Bouygues Telecom was required to give up a portion of its radio frequencies, which were then allocated to Free Mobile on 1 January 2015.

Orange and SFR are allowed to start using 1800 MHz for 4G from May 2016 and must likewise relinquish some spectrum to enable newcomer Free to compete on a more equal footing.

The regulator aims to reach a position by end-May 2016 whereby the country’s three largest operators (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom) each hold 20 MHz, while smaller rival Free Mobile has 15 MHz.

This is a more favourable situation than today where Free Mobile holds just 5 MHz behind rivals Orange (23.8 MHz), SFR (23.8 MHz) and Bouygues Telecom (21.6 MHz).

Orange and SFR have the option to begin refarming the 1800 MHz band sooner, if they want to use the band for 4G before May 2016.

The changes in spectrum allocation are consistent with a guidance document published by the regulator in March 2013.


Richard Handford

Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including...

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