French Regulator Prepares for 5G Pilots

in News, 5G, ARCEP

In France, the Government has launched a public consultation as part of the process of devising a national strategy for 5G. In this context French regulator, Arcep is opening up a window for conducting 5G pilots.

On 21 December of last year, 3GPP approved the first standard for the way in which 5G devices will be able to communicate with 5G antenna and take advantage of their increased performances, by relying on existing 4G networks.

Two frequency bands, 3400 - 3800 MHz band and  26 GHz band, appear to stand out in Europe. In France, Arcep has not yet allocated these bands to mobile networks.

The 3400 - 3800 MHz band - about which Arcep held a consultation last March - is generally viewed as the "core" 5G band: it offers large channels enabling high bitrates, has a certain degree of technological maturity and will be available in the near future in the vast majority of European countries;

The 26 GHz band, which is part of the new generation of millimeter-wave bands, and will enable unprecedented speeds: it still lacks technological maturity but remains of great interest for the 5G ecosystem as it will open the way for disruptive technologies.

To allow all of the players along the 5G value chain to explore use cases and the challenges of this new generation, today Arcep is opening up a "5G pilot" window, whose purpose is to help in the implementation of a national strategy for 5G.

Conducting 5G pilots should help deepen a general understanding of the systems for cohabitation between players, and test out business models: giving the entire 5G value chain the ability to tackle the issues surrounding these future networks under real-world conditions, beyond simply obtaining a technical validation of network equipment.

Operators, as well as future professional users of the band, often referred to as "verticals", should be able to work together on these pilots. Arcep's "5G pilot" window is open to any player interested in 5G and want to perform their first rollouts.

As of today, Arcep can issue temporary frequency authorizations to develop 5G pilots, notably in the two, above-mentioned bands, within the limits of their availability. In the 3400 - 3800 MHz band, frequencies are already available in the metropolitan areas of Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Étienne, Douai, Montpellier, and Grenoble. This is not an exhaustive list and may change over time: interested parties are invited to contact Arcep if they plan on deploying networks in other frequency ranges, or in other geographical locations.

These 5G trials will allow the regulator to obtain the first feedback on the use of next-generation networks. Information of their experience will help fuel the work that Arcep is doing to prepare for the allocation procedure for future 5G licenses.

Arcep will also contribute actively to the work that BEREC will be doing on 5G in 2018, and particularly on infrastructure sharing, frequency allocation procedures and coverage obligations.

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