Regulator Arcep started the inaugural 5G auction for frequencies in the 3.4GHz to 3.8GHz bands.
After delays due to differences of opinion about the approach Arcep should take, compounded by a delay caused by Covid-19, it is expected that commercial services will be live by the end of this year.
Operators can each bid for 11 lots of 10MHz blocks, but hold no more than 100MHz in total.
The auction is in two stages. Blocks of 50MHz will be sold for a fixed price of €350 million to each to the four main operators – Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free (Iliad).
Pricing and conditions
The reserve price – a sticking point in original consultations about the auction – is €70 million per 10MHz. There is no ceiling on the bids, but it is thought that auction will raise more than €2.2 billion in total, which is around a third of the totals raised in the German and Italian 5G auctions.
As part of the terms and conditions attached to the winning bids for spectrum, operators will be obliged to implement 5G services across 10,500 sites by 2025.
This spectrum will be available at the same time as the blocks won through bidding.
Arcep originally aimed to conduct the auction in April, but was forced to delay due to Covid-19 (coronavirus).