France’s 700MHz spectrum auction, which began Monday and closed Tuesday after 11 rounds, raked in nearly $3 billion (2.796 billion euros), the country’s regulatory agency announced Tuesday.
The final tally beat the 2.5 billion euros France’s regulatory body, the Autorite de regulation des communications electroniques et des postes (ARCEP), had hoped for. According to ARCEP, proceeds for each block also beat reserve expectations by about 50 million euros, totaling 466 million euros per block.
All four of the nation’s top carriers came away with new spectrum, with operators Orange and Free Mobile winning two blocks each and Bouygues Telecom and SFR winning one block each. The auction included a total of six 2×5 MHz blocks in a multi-round ascending model.
In statements released following the auction’s close, Orange said it now has 90 MHz of spectrum in total and 30 MHz of low-range spectrum; Free Mobile said it has 55 MHz of 3G and 4G spectrum; and SFR said it has 80 MHz spectrum total with 25 MHz in low-frequency airwaves. Bouygues Telecom said only that it holds a quarter of available spectrum.
ARCEP said it has yet to determine each operator’s placement within four possible positions on the frequency band between 703 MHz and 788 MHz, and has given the companies until Thursday to submit their preference along with the price they are willing to pay for their first choice. The regulator said operators who receive their second choice placement will pay two thirds of their first choice bid and those who receive their third placement preference will pay one third. Those who are given their last choice placement will pay nothing, ARCEP said.
The totals from the slot auction will be added to the results of the main auction, the agency said.
On Tuesday, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs released a statement saying the government welcomed the results and said the auction satisfied all the objectives set by the government in July. According to the release, the total amount of money secured in this week’s auction topped the earnings from France’s 2011 auction of 800 MHz spectrum.
This week’s auction auction came as France looked to both to raise funds from “intangible State assets” and help the country continue upgrading and improving its lagging wireless networks. In Tuesday’s release, the government said the well-distributed auction results would allow each of the nation’s four operators the means to continue developing and enhancing their service offerings, both in 4G today and 5G tomorrow.
In its Tuesday release, the government said the auction winners will be held to certain network obligations going forward, including the expansion of coverage in rural areas and along the country’s 13,600 miles (22,000 km) of train routes.
In May, a report found that nearly 70 percent of French territory and 20 percent of the population were not yet covered by 4G services. In July, ARCEP announced that it had cleared operators to refarm the 1800 MHz band, used in the past for 2G services, for 4G services starting in May of 2016.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)