France Ends February With 32,633 Authorized 5G Sites Nationwide


By Juan Pedro Tomás

France had a total of 32,633 authorized 5G sites as of March 1, of which 23,566 were declared technically operational by the local mobile carriers, according to the latest monthly report published by France’s spectrum agency ANFR.

ANFR said that the number of authorized 5G sites during February increased by 1.6 per cent compared to the previous month.

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

In France, mobile operators are already providing 5G services through the 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands.

ANFR said that a total of 19,211 sites are authorized in the 700 MHz band (Free Mobile), of which 14,264 are already technically operational. Also, ANFR said that 13,195 sites are authorized in the 2.1 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), but 8,134 are technically operational.

Meanwhile, 16,590 sites are authorized in the 3.5 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR), of which 10,608 are declared technically operational.

Free Mobile had the highest number of operational 5G sites as of the end of February, with 14,299 followed by Bouygues Telecom (6,943), SFR (5,450) and Orange (3,368).

Some of the authorized 5G sites are shared by the mobile operators, the agency said.

In addition, 56,441 4G sites were authorized in mainland France as of March 1, of which 51,845 are in service.

Free Mobile, a subsidiary of Illiad, recently said its 5G footprint currently covers 77 per cent of the population, up from 52 per centin May 2021.

Free Mobile said that its 5G network currently reaches 9,100 municipalities across France. It also said the firm had already deployed a total of 12,000 5G sites, including 2,514 5G sites using 3.5 GHz frequencies.

For its 5G network, Free Mobile uses frequencies in the 700 MHz band as well as frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band which Free acquired in a French spectrum auction in 2020.

Bouygues Telecom initially launched 5G in 20 cities across France in December 2020. 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.

French telco Orange has already activated 5G in over 160 cities across France, the operator’s CEO Stéphane Richard previously said. 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.

Meanwhile, SFR initially launched its 5G commercial network in Nice in November 2020. According to recent press reports, SFR currently provides 5G services in 2,100 municipalities across France.

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