French WiMAX operators failing to meet deployment obligation; now lean towards LTE

The French telecoms regulator Arcep has told seven WiMAX licence holders they are in default of their deployment obligations. Arcep says that the number of base stations installed by each operator is below their licence agreement, and now intends to warn them of the likely consequences.

However, while Arcep could fine the seven firms involved, or remove their licences, it is expected the regulator will do little more than instruct the operators to meet their June 2008 obligations by June 2012. After this, Arcep will want to see phased deployments until June 2015--which would then bring the seven operators in line with their 2010 obligations.

Of note, three of the seven--Altitude Wireless, Bolloré Telecom and the territorial collective of Corsica--have failed to make any use of their licensed spectrum, while the remaining four--Axione, the Department of Charente, Nomotech and SHD--have made partial use of their assigned WiMAX frequencies.

Commenting on the lack of progress, according to Le Nouvel Observater, Jean-Christophe Thierry, chairman of Bolloré, said that the stakeholders felt that WiMAX was ready for deployment when bidding for the licences. "But since then it has been abandoned by the entire telecom industry. The lack of proven technology on the 3.5 GHz band has prevented any national roll-out." Thierry added that he would look to persuade Arcep that the 3.5GHz spectrum should be reused for LTE.

"We have a licence for wireless broadband Internet with no obligation to use a particular technology," said the exec.

For more:
- see this Le Nouvel Observater article (translated via Google Translate) 
- see this Le Figaro article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Cellular News article

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