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French regulator launches 4G auction

16 июня 2011

The French telecommunications regulator Wednesday launched the auction for fourth-generation, or 4G, mobile spectrum in France - a process that will shape the competitive landscape in Europe's No. 3 telecom market.

The government will sell off two frequencies for high-speed mobile services that will allow faster Internet-browsing and video-streaming services.

Bidders interested in the lots of frequencies from the 2.6 gigahertz band must apply before Sept. 15, while bidders for the frequencies from the 800 megahertz band must apply before Dec. 15. The government will allocate the frequencies in late 2011 and early 2012, said the regulator, known as Arcep.

The government expects to raise at least EUR2.5 billion from the two auctions. The minimum price for the lower-quality frequencies of the 2.6 GHz band has been set at a total of EUR700 million and the minimum for the 800 MHz band at EUR1.8 billion, France's Finance and Industry Ministries said in a statement.

The government will take into account factors such as geographical coverage as well as the size of the bids when selecting a winner.

French Industry Minister Eric Besson said he wants the auction to attract bids from a wide range of French telecom companies. As a result, a sole operator won't be able to bid for more than half of the total amount of frequencies available.

Mobile operators need the spectrum to cope with the rapid surge of data traffic on the Internet. The 4G frequencies will allow for network upgrades so consumers can surf the Internet and download videos to their mobiles at high speeds--an increasingly important selling point.

France Telecom, Vivendi SA's SFR and Bouygues SA's telecom unit all have 3G mobile licenses, while Iliad SA last year was awarded France's fourth 3G license and is due to launch mobile services next year.

A Bouygues Telecom spokeswoman said her company is interested in the auction process. Officials at SFR weren't immediately available for comment. Spokespeople from Iliad and France Telecom declined to comment.

Источник: Total Telecom

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