Disagreements between France’s communications regulator and its finance ministry on pricing and other details of the country’s 5G spectrum auction were tipped to hold-up the process until at least March 2020, Reuters reported.
Citing un-named sources, the news publication said regulator Arcep and the finance ministry were yet to agree on the amount of spectrum being auctioned and the starting price for lots, delaying the start of the legal process leading to the sale.
Its original aim was to begin the auction in January, though this will apparently now be March at the earliest. Arcep opened a public consultation into the process in July with, at the time, the possibility of an Autumn auction being floated.
France is already behind other large European countries when it comes to auctioning spectrum for 5G services, with the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy all having completed the process months ago and the first services already live.
Operators, however, have been granted licences for test deployments and authorities have repeatedly stated 2020 as the launch date for commercial services.
The country’s four operators Orange, SFR, Iliad and Bouygues are all expected to compete for licences.
CHINA SPRINGS AHEAD
Meanwhile China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator, has set a target of signing up 70 million 5G users by the end of 2020, with a planned investment of CNY20 billion ($2.85 billion), China Daily reported.
Yang Jie, the state-owned operator’s chairman, said during a conference in Guangzhou its 5G investment over the next five years will reach at least CNY100 billion, the newspaper wrote.
Yang said the company will focus on deploying standalone 5G technology.
The market leader registered more than 10 million 5G users even before officially launching 5G services at the end of October in parts of 50 cities, along with rivals China Telecom and China Unicom.
China Mobile aims to deploy 50,000 5G sites by end-December.
GSMA Intelligence forecasts China will have 460 million 5G subscribers by 2025.
NOKIA, ERICSSON SCORE CHINA 5G DEALS
Nokia won 5G contracts valued at CNY15.7 billion ($2.2 billion) from China’s three major operators, just a week after they launched the next-generation mobile service, with rival Ericsson reported to have also secured deals.
The Finland-based vendor told Mobile World Live it signed 5G cooperation framework deals for 2020 with China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. The contracts cover end-to-end network deployments, equipment and services for 5G, ultra-broadband, core networks, optics, IP, software and managed services.
Chinese news portal Shine reported Ericsson also forged framework agreements with the three operators, though financial details were not disclosed.
The deals were agreed at the 2019 China International Import Expo, which is running in Shanghai until 10 November.
China Daily stated the award of contracts to non-domestic vendors highlights the country’s “open attitude to all international players” when deploying the technology, a contrast to nations including the US, Australia and Japan which barred Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE from bidding for 5G contracts.
China’s three operators staked a claim to having made the largest deployment of 5G, with about 86,000 base stations deployed in 50 cities at launch. They expect this number to exceed 130,000 by the year-end, marking rapid growth following the issue of licences in June.
GSMA Intelligence forecasts China will have 460 million 5G subscribers by 2025, accounting for 36 per cent of the worldwide total.