France reckons it could start launching 5G services next year

The French telecoms regulator Arcep has concluded a 5G consultation with a timetable that suggests 5G services could start launching in 2018.

The consultation, which commenced at the start of this year, was themed ‘New frequencies for superfast access in the regions, for businesses, 5G and innovation.’ The 5G part of the consultation focused on the 3.4-3.8 GHz band and noted that stakeholders had already identified that band for 5G services starting in 2020. The first stated aim was to reallocate that spectrum to create 300 MHz block of continuous spectrum by that date.

But Arcep also said the 5G process shouldn’t be put on hold while they sort that band out and reckons 80 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band could be allocated for trials much sooner, initially in Lyon, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Étienne and Grenoble.

“On the matter of 5G, Arcep plans on contacting all of the players with a licence in the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band without delay, with a view to amending these licences and, before the end of 2017, adding the rearrangements due to take place in that band,” said the Arcep announcement. “In the meantime, Arcep welcomes all and any queries from players interested in conducting 5G trials. Based on these trials, Arcep could then begin preparing for the frequency allocation procedure that would enable 5G services to launch in France, starting in 2018.

There are quite a few caveats in that statement, and some meaning could have got lost in translation, but this is quite a bullish statement of intent by the French telecoms regulator. While it’s still debatable how much of a hurry we need to be in about 5G and how much of an improvement these early efforts will represent, it’s nice to see a European country try to take the lead on 5G.

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