French operator Bouygues Telecom announced the availability of 5G in Marseille and said that its coverage has already reached 67 cities with a population of over 50,000 since the commercial launch of its 5G services on December 1.
In a release, the carrier said that its 5G rollout has reached over 1,000 municipalities across the country.
Bouygues Telecom initially launched 5G in 20 cities across France. Some of the cities covered by the company’s 5G network are Lyon, Nice, Cannes, Montpellier, Avignon, Reims, Le Havre, Toulon, Dijon, Villeurbanne, Le Mans, Aix-en-Provence, Boulogne-Billancourt, Metz, Versailles, Saint Denis, Argenteuil, Rouen, Montreuil et Nancy.
The French operator said it expects to achieve 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.
Bouygues Telecom participated in the 5G auction in September 2020, acquiring a 70 megahertz 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 ($3.4 billion) for a total of 11 blocks of 10 megahertz of spectrum.
French telecommunications services regulator 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.