France ends September with 29,327 authorized cell sites for 5G

Francie telco tower

France had a total of 29,327 5G authorized sites as of October 1, of which 18,689 were declared technically operational by the local mobile operators, according to the latest information provided by France’s spectrum agency ANFR.

ANFR said that the number of authorized 5G sites during September increased by 1.8% compared to August.

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 carriers are already providing 5G services through the 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands.

ANFR said that a total of 18,392 sites are authorized in the 700 MHz band (Free Mobile), of which 12,079 are already technically operational. Also, ANFR said that 10,645 sites are authorized in the 2.1 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), but 5,622 are technically operational.

Meanwhile, 12,462 sites are authorized in the 3.5 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR), of which 6,555 are declared technically operational.

Free Mobile had the highest number of operational 5G sites as of the end of September, with 12,081, followed by Bouygues Telecom (4,432), SFR (2,923) and Orange (2,475).

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

In addition, 54,806 4G sites were authorized in mainland France as of October 1, of which 50,343 are in service.

French telco Orange has already activated 5G in 160 cities across the country, 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.

Illiad subsidiary Free Mobile recently stated that its 5G footprint currently covers 62% of the population, up from 52% in mid-May and nearly 40% at the end of 2020.

Free Mobile said that its 5G network currently reaches 9,100 municipalities across France. It also said the firm had already commissioned a total of 10,200 5G sites.

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.

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 initially launched its 5G commercial network in Nice in November.