France picks Orange, Digicel and Free as winners for 4G in overseas markets

France picks Orange, Digicel and Free as winners for 4G in overseas markets

Orange, Digicel and Free have emerged as the winners in the French regulator’s allocation of 4G licences for its overseas markets.

Arcep, the French telecoms regulator, has awarded four licences for each of five French overseas territories, which are legally part of France.

Orange has won licences in all five: Guadeloupe-Martinique; St Barthélemy-St Martin; French Guiana; Réunion; and Mayotte. The communities have a population of no more than 2.1 million between them. Réunion in the Indian Ocean is the largest with 843,000, and St Barthélemy-St Martin in the Caribbean is the smallest, with only 45,000.

Privately owned Digicel, which is based in Jamaica, won three licences, including French Guiana on the South American coast and the two Caribbean communities of Guadeloupe-Martinique and St Barthélemy-St Martin.

Arcep awarded licences to two newcomers to the territories. Free, which is well established in mainland France, won licences for Guadeloupe-Martinique and St Barthélemy-St Martin. The Océinde Group’s Zeop Mobile won a licence for Réunion.

Arcep is launching the final stage of the procedure, which consists of a dialogue with the operators to determine the positioning of each parties' frequencies in each of the bands. This will take several weeks. Arcep will then allocate the frequencies to the operators, with a view to enabling the commercial rollout of 4G services on 1 December 2016.

The regulator said it received 25 applications and chose the 20 winners according to five criteria: the project’s consistency and credibility; the consistency and credibility of the business plan; the contribution to digital regional development; the contribution to stimulating the market with affordable products adapted to new consumer habits; and job creation and investment.

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