Will 5G be available in rural France?

France is preparing to roll out the new super-fast mobile internet technology to some areas before the end of the year - but there are also obligations in place to improve 4G. 

7 October 2020
A man uses his mobile phone for internet. Eventually all sites in France should offer 5G servicesEventually all sites in France should offer 5G services
By Connexion journalist

Reader question: I have been hearing about 5G technology coming to France this year and I wanted to know if and when it will be available in my town in the Dordogne?

There is still no concrete answer to this question, but France is making progress on the 5G rollout. 

Last week, an auction was held to divide up 5G frequencies among the country’s four main telecom operators: Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free. 

Read more about the auction and the 5G rollout here.

Eventually, all sites in France will be required to provide a 5G service, but the initial phases are as followed:

5G in 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 sites by 2024 and 10,500 sites by 2025. At least 25% of these sites must be in “sparsely populated areas and industrial areas, outside the main metropolitan zones,” France’s telecommunications regulatory agency Arcep states. 

A spokesperson at Arcep said that there is also an obligation for the four telecoms operators to increase 4G coverage. 

From 2022, at least 75% of sites [in France] should benefit from a mobile internet download speed of at least 240Mbps (megabits per second). By the end of 2025, 90% of sites should offer this speed.

For most internet needs, 30Mbps is more than adequate. 

By comparison, 5G will offer downloads speeds of up to 10Gbps. 

The Arcep told The Connexion that the agency is planning to publish maps in early November that will show the progress of mobile coverage in France. This will let people look at, for example, Dordogne, and see the mobile coverage by operator. 

There is currently a map showing the areas in the country where 5G trials are taking place (see below). 

Locations where 5G trials are taking place in France

A 2019 report by Arcep stated that in France “the quality of mobile internet services is improving significantly for all operators in all areas: rural, intermediate and dense areas”. 

Mobile internet download speeds increased from around 6Mbps in rural areas in 2016 to 28Mbps in rural areas in 2019. 

Mobile internet download speeds 2016 - 2019 (Arcep)

The same report noted that in terms of nationwide coverage, Orange posted the best results, followed by Bouygues Telecom, SFR and finally Free Mobile. 

However, in rural areas Bouygues Telecom achieved the best results, just ahead of Orange and SFR.

Read more about mobile internet in France:

France begins 5G mobile technology frequency roll out

Macron: France ‘will adopt 5G’ as a ‘country of innovation’

4G coverage for French communes with no reception delayed

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