16 January 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
The French government has told the country’s four telecoms operators to work together to fill in those areas without a mobile signal.
Julien Denormandie, the Minister of Territorial Cohesion,
said that the regulator, Arcep, has reached an agreement with
the operators to ensure coverage in the so-called "white areas"
on the map of France.
"We have engaged in intense negotiations with the four main
operators to significantly improve the territory’s
mobile coverage," Denormandie told the newspaper Journal du
Dimanche. "This is a historic agreement that will change
the daily life of the French."
He said that French president Emmanuel Macron has set the
target of 2020 for high-speed coverage across France.
Operators will spend €3 billion between them on 5,000 new
masts, he said. "We will do in three years what we have done so
far in 15 years to deploy mobile telephony," he added.
"In some places, like the current white areas, they will have
to pool, and therefore share the equipment. In addition, they
undertake to cover the main transport routes, including
30,000km of railway lines, including TER [regional suburban]
The French state will not contribute to the cost, he added,
which will be borne by the three operators – Bouygues,
Free, Orange and SFR. "The state gives operators permission to
operate [by licensing spectrum]," said Denormandie.
"We could have auctioned the future renewal of these
frequencies, but we have favoured land use planning by telling
them: 'We are renewing them in exchange for a massive
acceleration of your infrastructure deployments.’"
Arcep will be the guarantor of the investment, he said.