French operator Bouygues Telecom has announced the launch of its commercial 5G network.
In a release, the carrier said that it will initially offer 5G in 20 cities across France. Some of the cities covered by the company’s 5G network are Avignon, Lyon, Nice, Cannes, Reims, Toulon, Aix-en-Provence, Nancy and Montpellier.
The French operator has also confirmed the goal of achieving nationwide coverage by the end of 2021. The current roll-out phase will rely on the 3.5 GHz and 2.1 GHz bands. A second stage of deployment will start in 2023, when the operator’s 5G network core will enable new applications in fields such as smart cities and connected cars.
“5G is a technology that will support our customers’ future uses and help companies grow by offering them unprecedented service quality,” said Richard Viel, CEO of Bouygues Telecom.
“We will roll out our network gradually, starting with the major towns and cities, with a target of nationwide coverage for end-2021. To achieve that, we are listening carefully to local authorities in pursuit of constructive dialogue,” he said. “At the same time, Bouygues Telecom will continue to roll out and ramp up its 4G network throughout France, especially outside urban areas, in order to provide high-quality connectivity to as many people as possible,” he added.
Bouygues Telecom participated in the 5G auction in September 2020, acquiring a 70 MHz block of 3.5 GHz spectrum which doubled its portfolio of frequencies for a price of 602 million euros (currently $712 million). As a result, Bouygues Telecom now has nearly a quarter of the available spectrum in France.
Meanwhile, rival operator SFR announced that its 5G service will be available in 120 towns and cities in France by the end of December. The telco had initially launched its 5G commercial network in Nice last month.
Some of the large cities to be covered by SFR’s 5G network include Bordeaux, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice and Paris.
Meanwhile, Orange recently said it expects to launch its commercial 5G services in 15 municipalities on December 3.Some of the cities where the 5G service will be initially available are Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers and Clermont Ferrand. By the end of 2020, more than 160 municipalities will be covered with 5G.
The main auction for 3.4-3.8 GHz frequencies for the provision of 5G in France was completed in early October.
In this spectrum auction, local operators Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad committed to pay a total of 2.8 billion euros for a total of 11 blocks of 10 megahertz of spectrum.
Arcep’s specifications for the 5G auction stipulate that each operator must launch 5G services in at least two cities before the end of 2020. Each carrier should deploy 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 sites in 2024 and 10,500 sites by 2025.
Eventually, all of the cell sites must provide a 5G service using frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band or other bands, according to the regulator.
Arcep’s conditions also stipulate the obligation for carrier to deploy 5G to provide coverage in roadways across France.