French operators bid for 800MHz spectrum, as government seeks €1.8B from auction

The four French mobile operators have made initial bids for spectrum in the valuable 800MHz band. The government has indicated that it is looking to raise at least €1.8 billion from this second phase of the LTE spectrum auction.

Arcep, the French telecoms regulator, confirmed that France Telecom Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad's Free Mobile had submitted offers but did not reveal how much each company had bid.

Industry analysts believe that SFR, the country's second-largest mobile operator, will be an aggressive bidder in this round top the after failing to win as much 2.6GHz spectrum as it wanted in the first round of auctions, according to Reuters

If SFR does set the pace, then the government might overachieve on the target it set itself on raising more than €2.5 billion from the sale of LTE licences. The 2.6GHz auction, which concluded in September, raised €936 million, setting a benchmark for similar frequencies sold in some neighbouring European countries.

The presence of Free Mobile in these 800MHz auction is likely to worry its more established rivals given that it surprised many by outbidding SFR for one of the larger blocks of 2.6GHz frequencies in the first round. How Iliad bids in this round is likely to be interpreted as a signal of whether it intends to play a more significant role in the French market.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Dow Jones Newswirres article

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