France authorizes almost 20,000 5G sites nationwide

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France had a total of 19,938 5G authorized sites as of February 1, of which 9,426 were declared technically operational by the mobile telephone operators, France’s spectrum agency ANFR reported.

The agency said that all these 5G sites have been authorized on existing sites, already used by 2G, 3G or 4G technologies.

In January, authorized 5G sites increased by 10.5%, ANFR said.

The agency also noted that according to information provided by the local mobile operators, 48.9% of authorized sites are technically operational.

In France, mobile operators are currently providing 5G services through three frequency bands.

A total of 4,413 sites are authorized in the 700 MHz band (Free Mobile), of which 6,274 are already technically operational. Also, ANFR said that 5,678 sites are authorized in the 2,100 MHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), but 3,159 are technically operational.

Meanwhile, 4,775 sites are authorized in the new 3.5 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR), of which 1,624 are declared technically operational.

Some of the authorized sites are shared by the mobile operators, the agency sdaid.

In addition, 52,538 4G sites were authorized in mainland France as of February 1, of which 47,796 are in service.

Orange has already activated 5G in 160 cities across the country, the operator’s CEO Stéphane Richard recently said in an interview with local newspaper Jornal du Dimanche. Some of the initial cities covered by Orange’s 5G network include Marseille, Nice, Le Mans and Angers.

The executive also said that Orange is currently engaged in talks with the Municipality of Paris for the deployment of the technology in the capital. Richard said that he expected the activation of 5G in Paris to occur during the first quarter of the year.

Orange initially launched commercial 5G services in 15 municipalities at the beginning of December 2020.

The operator said that the service will be offered though frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band.

Orange has previously obtained 90 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. The telco said that its upcoming 5G deployment focuses mainly on these new 3.5 GHz frequencies and may be supplemented by the use of 2.1 GHz frequencies.

Iliad subsidiary Free Mobile launched commercial 5G services in the country in December. For its 5G network, Free Mobile currently uses frequencies in the 700 MHz band as well as frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band which Free acquired in the French spectrum auction in 2020.

In December 2020, 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.

Meanwhile, SFR had initially launched its 5G commercial network in Nice in November.

Some of the large cities to be covered by SFR’s 5G network include Bordeaux, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice and Paris.

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