France to conduct 5G spectrum auction in Sept

France plans to conduct its 5G spectrum auction at the end of September after repeated delays, the country’s telecoms watchdog Arcep said on Thursday.
Smartphone user in FranceThe 5G spectrum auction, first planned for January, was postponed following disagreements between the French finance ministry and the watchdog and then because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Arcep said the 5G spectrum auction will take place in the last ten days of September, Arcep said in a statement.

The exact date has yet to be fixed, Arcep’s president Sebastien Soriano told reporters.

France’s four telecoms operators — Bouygues Telecom, Iliad, Orange and Altice Europe’s SFR — submitted tender packages for some frequencies at a fixed price in February.

The government has said the overall 5G spectrum would have to yield at least 2.17 billion euros ($2.47 billion).

That represents the floor price at which the government is ready to sell 310 MHz. It has already agreed to sell a bloc of 50 MHz to each telecoms operator for 350 million euros, or 1.4 billion euros in total.

The remaining 110 MHz are to be sold during the auction, by bloc of 10 MHz and at a minimum of 70 million euros, or 770 million euros in total.

The auction date will likely disappoint Bouygues Telecom, which has called for a deferral until late 2020 or early 2021 because of uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus crisis.

Soriano said he dropped a requirement for operators to cover at least two French cities with the new 5G technology by the end of the year.

“The four operators retain full commercial freedom not to launch 5G in the coming months,” he said.

Germany and Italy have raised about 6.5 billion euros each through 5G spectrum auctions.