France raises almost €3M more from 700 MHz auction

France concluded the final part of its recent 700 MHz spectrum auction after telecoms regulator Arcep revealed the positions that have been allocated to the country's four mobile operators within the frequency band.

Arcep completed the main auction of six blocks of 700 MHz frequencies last week, raising a total of €2,796,000,000 ($2.96 billion) for government coffers. However, the proceeds have now increased slightly to €2,798,976,324, taking into account additional fees paid by the operators to secure their preferred positions. Arcep added that a variable annual fee equal to one per cent of the revenue earned from the use of these frequencies is to be added to these amounts.

In detail, SFR has first position in the band and has been allocated two blocks of 5 MHz, for a bid in the amount of €466 million. Orange has second position in the band and was allocated two blocks of 10 MHz for a bid of €933 million. Bouygues Telecom obtained third position and was allocated two blocks of 5 MHz for a bid of €467 million. Free Mobile occupies fourth position and has been allocated two blocks of 10 MHz for a bid in the amount of €932 million.

The operators have until late 2018 to pay the total fee, with the first of four payments due upon the issue of the licence. Arcep said the licences would be issued to each of the winning candidates within the next few weeks.

The 700 MHz band is currently being used by digital terrestrial television (DTT) services in France. The government decided to allocate 2×30 MHz to mobile operators "to enable them to keep pace with the exponential increase in mobile data traffic," Arcep noted. The band will be freed up progressively across the country between 2016 and 2019.

France became the next country in Europe after Germany to auction off frequencies in the 700 MHz auction. The UK also plans to open up 700 MHz frequencies to mobile operators for wireless broadband services by 2022 or possibly up to two years earlier.

The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), which is taking place from 2-27 November, also this week approved the global harmonisation of the 700 MHz (694-790 MHz) frequency band for the provision of mobile broadband services.

For more:
- see this Arcep release
- see the ITU release

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