French telecom regulator Arcep authorized an amendment in an existing network sharing agreement between local operators Bouygues Telecom and SFR to include 5G technology.
On January 23, 2023, Arcep had received three new contractual amendments signed by both operators whose main purpose was to extend the 5G sharing agreement and deploy new cell sites on the shared network, the regulator said.
Arcep informed market stakeholders of the existence of these amendments, and invited them to submit comments. Arcep said it did not receive a single contribution in response.
“After an in-depth examination, Arcep concluded that it does not appear necessary to request that Bouygues Telecom and SFR modify their agreement,” the regulator said. Arcep concluded that, as modified by the amendments, the performance of this agreement is not likely to create an obstacle to guarantee competition in the local telecom market.
“In particular, the addition of 5G technology and the reassessment of deployment objectives for new cell sites on the shared network help to satisfy the quality of service requirements fuelled by ongoing advances in mobile services and new generation network coverage needs,” Arcep said.
Once in effect, the network sharing agreement, initially implemented for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, will be expanded to include 5G technology. The geographical scope of the network sharing deal remains unchanged, Arcep added.
The sharing agreement was signed in 2014 for a period of 20 years. It initially included the sharing of 2G/3G/4G networks over a large portion of metropolitan France, with a temporary 4G roaming solution. In 2016, in an amendment to this contract, Bouygues Telecom and SFR agreed upon a trajectory for the gradual end of SFR roaming on the Bouygues Telecom network by the end of 2018.
In February 2020, a new amendment to the contract was sent to Arcep which covered the future deployment of new 2G, 3G and 4G cell sites, the regulator said.
France had a total of 41,206 authorized 5G sites as of July 1, of which 31,663 were declared technically operational by local operators, according to the latest monthly report published by France’s spectrum agency ANFR.
The spectrum agency also 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 currently providing 5G services through spectrum in 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands.
Bouygues Telecom initially launched 5G in 20 cities across France in December 2020. The telco currently provides 5G coverage in nearly 12,400 towns and municipalities across France. Some of the large cities where the telco provides 5G include Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Nantes, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Lille.
Meanwhile, SFR initially launched its 5G commercial network in Nice in November 2020. According to the company’s website, SFR currently provides 5G services in 7,700 municipalities across France.