The French retail telecoms market achieved revenue growth in 2021 for the first time in ten years, which regulator Arcep attributed in part to a return to pre-pandemic form by the mobile sector.

Arcep’s latest market update revealed retail revenue increased 2.5 per cent to €36.1 billion in 2021. Mobile service revenue (including M2M connections) increased 4.7 per cent to €14.1 billion, while mobile handset sales rose 7.2 per cent to €3.3 billion.

The regulator noted mobile roaming picked up again from Q2 2021.

Total investments by the four network operators in the nation amounted to €15.5 billion, lower than the €16.2 billion invested in 2020. However, excluding spending on 5G spectrum, investments rose 10.9 per cent to €14.9 billion. Around €3.6 billion was invested in mobile networks.

Operators spent €700 million on frequencies in 2021 compared with €2.8 billion in 2020, the year France held its auction of 5G-enabling spectrum.

A total of 80 million active SIM cards were in use as of 31 December 2021. However, 5G still only accounted for around 3 million users, or 4 per cent of the total, with 4G remaining the dominant technology, representing 82 per cent of all SIM cards in use.

Mobile data usage by 4G users increased by around 1GB to an average of 12GB per month.