France to postpone April 5G auction – quelle surprise

An auction of a bunch of mid-band 5G spectrum was due to take place in France next month, but now it isn’t coz of COVID-19.

The French Telecoms regulator Arcep announced the auction last November in simpler, more innocent times. 310 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band was due to be on the table in four 50 MHz blocks and 11 10 MHz morsels. You can see how Arcep envisaged the process playing out below.

While, in principle, the auction could technically take place despite the severe restrictions on movement currently imposed in France, in practice there’s little point in pushing ahead with such things when all the follow-up activities would be so difficult to perform. Arcep has yet to publish a press release announcing the cancellation, but has individually advised plenty of media that is the case.

On top of the movement restrictions and the consequent fact that everyone who can is now working from home, nearly all businesses are going to be severely cash flow constrained while the world remains in limbo as we attempt to minimize the severity of this once-in-a-century pandemic. It seems very unlikely that operators will be inclined to bid with any enthusiasm whatsoever in any spectrum auctions until this runs its course.

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