By Juan Pedro Tomás
France had a total of 22,857 5G authorized sites as of April 1, of which 12,213 were declared technically operational by the local mobile operators, according to the latest information provided by France’s spectrum agency ANFR.
The agency said that all of the 5G sites have been authorized on existing cellular sites, already used by 2G, 3G or 4G technologies.
ANFR also said that the total number of authorized 5G sites during March increased 5.3 per cent compared to the previous month.
In France, mobile operators are currently providing 5G services through three frequency bands: 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.5 GHz.
A total of 15,985 sites are authorized in the 700 MHz band (Free Mobile), of which 8,084 are already technically operational. Also, ANFR said that 6,981 sites are authorized in the 2.1 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), but 3,261 are technically operational.
Meanwhile, 6,679 sites are authorized in the 3.5 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR), of which 2,271 are declared technically operational.
Some of the authorized sites are shared by the mobile operators, ANFR said.
In addition, 53,033 4G sites were authorized in mainland France as of April 1, of which 48,466 are in service.
French mobile operators are rapidly deploying 5G coverage across the country after they had launched the technology during 2020.
Orange has already activated 5G in 160 cities across the country, the operator’s CEO Stéphane Richard previously 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. Orange initially launched commercial 5G services in 15 municipalities at the beginning of December 2020.
Illiad subsidiary Free Mobile launched commercial 5G services in the country in December 2020. 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.
Also in December 2020, Bouygues Telecom initially launched 5G in 20 cities across France. 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.
French operators Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR launched 5G services in Paris last month, following the recent approval by the local city council.
The Paris Council approved a new telecom charter which paved the way for 5G activations in the French capital.
The agreement followed the conclusion of a consultation process launched at the end of 2020 by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, aimed at gathering feedback from the public on topics such as the environmental and health issues related to 5G deployments. The new pact stipulated limitation on exposure to radio waves, information and transparency on the installation of 5G antennas and monitoring of the environmental impact of 5G deployments in the city.