Regulator Arcep to reorganise 3.5 GHz band in bid to make 340 MHz of spectrum available.

France plans to award 5G spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band in September, and will launch a consultation on the allocation process next month.

In a statement last week, regulator Arcep said that existing holders of frequencies at 3.4 GHz-3.8 GHz, which includes fixed wireless service providers, will be reorganised into contiguous blocks towards the low end of the band.

"This configuration will make it possible to have more than 300 MHz of contiguous spectrum available for 5G by 2020, and 340 MHz by 2026 (and possibly even 390 MHz in places where the frequencies are not being used for superfast wireless systems)," Arcep said.

The watchdog also plans to make 80 MHz of spectrum at 3.6 GHz available for 5G trials in specific cities, including Grenoble, Le Havre, Lille, Lyon, Nantes and Saint-Etienne.

"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," Arcep said.

In addition to allocating 3.5-GHz spectrum, Arcep has also revealed plans to assign 40 MHz of 2.6-GHz TDD spectrum to provide superfast professional mobile radio (PMR) networks, which are used by the likes of airports and subway systems to enable staff to communicate with one another.

"Arcep will hold a consultation in the autumn on the document that sets out the system to be used for allocating 2.6-GHz frequencies, and plans on beginning its frequency allocation procedure before the end of the year," Arcep said.