After 17 rounds of competitive bidding spread across just three days, France has completed its long-awaited auction of 3.4–3.8 GHz spectrum. Each mobile operator committed to acquiring 50 MHz prior to the start of the process, with a further 11 spectrum lots put up for sale. Of these blocks, Orange acquired four, SFR won three and Bouygues Telecom and Iliad each gained two.
France was the last major European market to assign spectrum for 5G after delays caused by disagreements over auction terms and the emergence of Covid-19. The EUR2.8 billion raised is low relative to the sums generated in Germany and Italy, particularly when France and Italy are compared on a price per MHz per population basis. However, the award represents progress against EU spectrum auction deadlines contained within the European Electronic Communications Code. Operators are now well placed to deliver the investment needed to meet ambitious 5G deployment targets over the coming years, with Orange revealing a December 2020 launch date.