France opens spectrum auction

French regulator ARCEP today opened bidding in its 4G spectrum licence auction in which the government aims to raise over €2.5 billion from telecoms operators.

The government has set deadlines of mid-September this year for bids in the 2.6GHz band and mid-December for 800MHz of bandwidth, and will allocate spectrums in Autumn this year and early next year respectively.

According to Reuters, the government is attempting to use this latest spectrum auction to maximise competition in the telecoms space and also attain the maximum value of the licences. The French government has reiterated its stance that the spectrum acquired is neutral and operators can use it to service needs, but LTE is expected to be widely adopted to keep in touch with other developed European markets.

The 800MHz band is seen as the more valuable asset of the two bands and French operators SFR, Bouygues and Iliad have lobbied for caps to stop one operator gaining a march on competition, which the government has agreed on. The cap set, however, still means one operator can acquire up to half of the spectrum available in the 800MHz band. In a spectrum auction last year in Germany, operators invested more in lower band capacity, and market watchers predict the same could occur in France.

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