France may fix price of $2.4 bn for 5G spectrum

France is likely to fix floor price of 2.17 billion euros or $2.4 billion for its 5G spectrum, significantly more than the amount previously recommended by the country’s telecoms regulator Arcep.
Smartphone user in France
“The floor price that we’re proposing seems reasonable to us,” Junior Economy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told French newspaper Les Echos. “It’s up to the government to assume its responsibilities and decide.”

Arcep’s president Sebastien Soriano said earlier this week that the minimum price for the sale of the 5G spectrum should not be higher than 1.5 billion euros.

France’s economy ministry has the final word on the floor price for sale.

Arcep has kicked off the sale of 5G spectrum on Thursday, ending months of debate between four telecoms operators and authorities on how to best deploy the new mobile technology.

Disagreements between the finance ministry and the telecoms authority over the spectrum to be auctioned and the minimum price for the 5G frequency blocs postponed the process, Reuters reported.

French telecoms operators — Orange, Altice Europe’s SFR, Iliad and Bouygues Telecoms — whose margins are already suffering from a price war, are concerned about the increase in 5G spectrum price.

France is likely to delay its 5G spectrum auction until at least March 2020, three months later than originally scheduled, Reuters reported earlier.

France’s last spectrum auction in 2015 raised 2.8 billion euros. Under the current plan, the 5G frequency blocs up for grabs are within the 3.4-3.8 gigahertz bandwidth. A first set of blocs will be granted at a fixed price and a second will be auctioned.

5G services are already available in nine European countries, including Spain, Britain, Ireland, Germany and Italy, making France one the last large nations on the continent to adopt the new generation cellular network technology.

Germany and Italy have raised about 6.5 billion euros each through 5G spectrum auctions. 5G spectrum price is always a big concern for telecom operators.