The French telecoms regulator, Arcep, has given the OK to Orange and SFR (Societe Francaise de Radiotelephonie) to deploy 3G services using the 900 MHz band frequencies previously reserved for GSM services. The move will enable the two companies to up their national 3G coverage to include virtually the entire French population.
This move is in contrast to the stance being taken by Ofcom, the U.K. telecoms regulator, which proposes to open up the 2G spectrum at 900 MHz and 1800 MHz to 3G services. This action would see part of the 900 MHz spectrum currently licensed to O2 and Vodafone available to be re-auctioned for other operators to use.
To further compound this issue, the European Commission's plans to introduce spectrum refarming at a European level, which would at least provide clarity for member states, are stuck in the European Parliament. Last summer, the European Commission presented its proposal to repeal the GSM Directive, which would provide the legal framework to allow 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrums to be used for other services besides GSM.