The operator said it will launch 5G in 15 French municipalities in early December, including the cities of Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers, and Clermont Ferrand
At the start of October, Orange swiped the largest share of 5G spectrum at the French spectrum auction, securing 90 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band. Now, the operator says it will be putting this spectrum to use, aiming to supplement it with spectrum from the 2.1 Ghz band to supply the initial cities of its French 5G rollout.
On the 3rd of December, Orange will rollout commercial 5G to 15 municipalities in France, with a further 145 planned by the end of the year. Initial deployments, include Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers, and Clermont Ferrand. According to the company, these initial deployments are some of the regions most at risk of network saturation, having seen a 40% increase of data usage on its core network in the past year.
The operator is expecting nationwide coverage within a year.
“The deployment will be done gradually and in a constructive dialogue with all local authorities, in parallel with our efforts to expand coverage of the French territory in 4G,” said Stéphane Richard, Orange Group chairman and CEO.
Orange is not the only French operator to be launching 5G before the end of the year – in fact, launching in at least two cities before the end of 2020 was one of the stipulations laid out in the terms of the 5G auction back in October. As a result, Bouygues Telecom is expected to launch 5G tomorrow, while SFR have already launched 5Gin Nice earlier this month, becoming the first operator to launch 5G in France, albeit in a very limited way.
Meanwhile, Orange is also working on private 5G networks in France, recently joining forces with Ericsson to work on building a smart factory for electronics manufacturer Lacroix.