Operators do not scramble to resume low 700MHz frequencies

by bold-lichterman

Between 2017 and 2019 the frequencies of the 700 MHz band from television will be transferred to the telecoms sector… But who to acquire them? Although these are described as “golden” frequencies, the telecoms operators are in no hurry to take them back.

It is Arcep which will be responsible for allocating these frequencies suitable for low density areas, which François Hollande confirmed will go on sale on Tuesday 2 October. The President of the Republic underlined “we need an audiovisual which can widely, and in an efficient and secure manner, broadcast. This is the challenge of transferring the 700 MHz band to the telecoms sector. The State will ensure that the resource available for the audiovisual industry is guaranteed ”. The State intends to collect between 2 and 3 billion euros thanks to these sales, an amount included in the 2015 budget bill.

The state changes its discourse in two years

Not only do the three incumbent operators (Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecoms) do not really seem to need to increase their means in terms of frequencies, but they also have something to be bitter vis-à-vis the state. Indeed, in 2012 when they were developing 4G, the latter had given them for a very high price (3.6 billion euros in total) frequencies between 800 and 2600 MHz, declaring that there would be no new sales before 2020. And now, barely 24 months later, the State offers them new frequencies! From there to accuse of deception, there is only one step, taken by SFR a few months ago which complained to the Council of State.

And the purchase of new frequencies did not seem to be the first concern of the operators: Free (Iliad) being on the American T-Mobile case and Bouygues Télécoms and SFR (Numéricable) forced to pool their networks to lower their costs. However, these low frequencies have serious advantages: they propagate over long distances from a relay antenna, ensuring radio coverage at a lower cost, and penetrate more easily inside buildings. Enough – in principle – to motivate operators to take an interest in it anyway. The precise timetable for the operation has not yet been disclosed.