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New pledge to get rid of mobile blackspots

Plans to enable mobile access everywhere go ahead

An ‘historic’ agreement has been signed between the state and mobile telephone operators to end zones blanches (‘reception blackspots’) – the 500 or so communes where you cannot reliably use a mobile at all or cannot use mobile internet.

Bouy­gues, Free, Orange and SFR promise 4G services will be accessible ‘everywhere’ in three years, even if they admit there will still be some isolated corners in the countryside where phones do not work.

At the moment, around 11% of the population does not have 4G coverage.

The aim will be not only that coverage exists but that it is ‘good’ and phones work well inside buildings.

Each operator commits to building at least 5,000 new mast sites (a total investment of around €3billion). In return it is expected that the state will exempt the new sites from tax for the first five years, plus the right of firms to transmit on certain frequencies will be granted for longer than previously (the state makes money by auctioning these rights).

In effect the state wishes to de­monstrate the seriousness of the problem by prioritising coverage over income.

It is also intended to speed up the time taken to get new transmitter sites up and running, which can take two years on average compared to five months in Germany.

Orange chief Pierre Louette says this will need more “flexibility” from French officials, but he is “confident of the government’s capacity to do it”.

The new drive follows complaints from local councillors, frustrated by the way lack of reliable coverage has been putting off firms and families from coming to their areas.

The website allows you to check your coverage: Click for voice and text or mobile internet and select an operator.

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