While many operators across the globe had both auction and deployment of 5G in action by mid-year 2020, all within a pandemic, France only completed its auctions a couple months shy of 2020 ending, with the sale of 310 MHz in the 3.4 - 3.8 GHz frequency band.
With that completed, Orange France has made a strong start in 2021 with at least 160 cities now covered with the new network, and Bouygues Telecom has set its sights on the Bordeaux metropolitan area first with 5G services now available to at least 800,000 people, in addition to the more than 1000 French municipalities the operator claims to cover.
Meanwhile, in a potential move to speed up the implementation of 5G the French spectrum agency ANFR recently authorized almost 20,000 5G sites in the country, all of which are existing and used for 2G, 3G, and 4G.
In other news not centered around 5G, Bouygues Telecom recently released its five year plan with the ambitious goal to become the second largest mobile operator in France, behind Orange which continues to dominate the market space. The operator, which acquired EIT in 2020 thus adding an extra 2 million customers to its database, still put itself slightly ahead of Iliad and into third place.
The moves French operators make in the coming months will be pivotal to how it ranks on the global stage, both as they deploy 5G and strengthen existing 4G services. In Tutela’s 2020 Global Experience Report, which looks at our metric of Excellent and Core Consistent Quality at a country level across the globe, France placed 28th in the Excellent Consistent Quality ranking and 31st for Core Consistent Quality. This was a ranking of 22nd among operators in Europe, and highlights that while France is highly competitive in the telecom space, there is more to be done before it can challenge the established strongholds of telecoms juggernauts like the Nordics.
In order to benchmark mobile experience over the last six months, Tutela has evaluated over 9 million speed and latency tests, conducted on the smartphones of real-world users of national mobile operators within Common Coverage Areas, between August 1st 2020 and January 31st 2021.