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France’s regulatory body has expressed its confidence that operators will be in a position to launch 5G services next year, as it formally announced its plans to auction off spectrum for the next-generation technology that is set to revolutionize the world as we know it.

Arcep, disclosed the findings of a public consultation group which was tasked with the responsibility of looking into the future of mobile networks across France. The regulator said that the 3.4-3.8GHz band will be opened up to market players with a view to 5G rollouts.

In addition to this, Arcep stated that will attempt to ‘regroup’ operators currently using 3.4-3.6GHz spectrum towards the bottom of the band, in order to achieve more than 300MHz of contiguous spectrum by 2020 and 340MHz by 2026.

The French regulatory authority has also announced that it has identified a sub-band of 80MHz at 3.6GHz to be utilized for the rapid deployment of 5G trials, other venues touted for 5G trials are Lyon, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble.

In an official statement, Arcep said it would facilitate any request from telecommunications operators who expressed an interest in testing the next-generation technology. It said, "Arcep welcomes all and any queries from players interested in conducting 5G trials. Based on these trials, Arcep could then begin preparing for the frequency allocation procedure that would enable 5G services to launch in France, starting in 2018."

Swedish telecommunications colossus Ericsson hit more than 25GBps during its 5G trial in Bouygues in March, whilst in January, Orange partnered with Ericsson on another 5G test which generated speeds of more than 10GBps.

The French regulator insisted that it is planning to reserve up to 50MHz with the 3.4GHz band in order to be in a position to provide coverage to unconnected areas. It has claimed this would complement its fiber deployments, fixed line copper upgrades and existing mobile networks. Arcep confirmed that the frequency license for this spectrum will be subject to ambitious rollout obligations.

Industry analysts are predicting that work will commence on the upgrading of the 3.5GHz network later this year. It’s also expected that a consultation process on the system to allocate the 3.5GHz band will be held next month, with a view to begin dishing out spectrum from September.

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