PARIS, May 23 (Reuters) – France is expected to postpone its planned 5G spectrum auction to late 2020 or early 2021 due to uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus crisis, the head of one of the best French conglomerates.
In February, French telecommunications regulator Arcep said it hoped to allocate 5G licenses by June, but after France was blocked from viruses in mid-March, Arcep postponed the sale and said a new date would depend on the progression of the health crisis.
“We have to postpone the auction date simply because today’s economic world is not the same as in early March, when the auction conditions were set,” said Martin Bouygues, CEO of the parent company of Bouygues Telecom, in the French daily newspaper. Le Figaro.
Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR had already submitted a tender dossier for certain frequencies in February.
“It is true that telecommunications operators have escaped the crisis relatively unscathed, but is it reasonable to think that they can buy frequencies for which the price was fixed at the beginning of this year, when the economy was in in full swing, when it now appears that 2020 growth could drop 8% and the recession will probably last? ” he said.
He indicated that the pandemic had shown that it is essential for everyone to have an Internet connection and that citizens can find it more important to have 4G in each region of France than to have 5G in large cities. cities.
He added that while 5G holds great promise, the technology is far from mature and that for a wider audience, truly innovative applications will not arrive until 2023-24.
He added that Bouygues would participate in the 5G auction each time it is held.
Report by Geert De Clercq; edited by David Evans and Ros
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