French operators agree deal with govt to improve LTE coverage, obtain spectrum licence extension

Monday 15 January 2018 | 10:04 CET | News

Telecom regulator Arcep announced that the government has reached an important agreement with mobile network operators to enhance the quality of LTE services in France and extend coverage, particularly across rural areas and on the road/railway network. Under the deal, operators have agreed to accelerate the deployment of LTE over the next three years, committing to reach quality obligations monitored by the regulator. In exchange, they have obtained a spectrum licence extension for 900/1800/2100 MHz frequencies, with no change to the current annual licence fees.

Secretary of state for regional planning, Julien Denormandie, said that the country's operators have pledged to invest EUR 3 billion to achieve the objectives within the new agreement. This will fund the installation of at least 5,000 new LTE cell sites for each operator, in some cases using network sharing to bring coverage to under-served areas and white spots. The construction of new masts will be facilitated by a change in legislation, which promises to simplify current planning rules. In addition to enhanced outdoor coverage, indoor reception will be improved with the roll-out of voice over Wi-Fi services.

The deal follows intense negotiations over the second half of 2017, when the regulator said it was in favour of extending current licences, instead of holding new spectrum auctions, in exchange for legally binding coverage commitments from operators. 

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