France joins Orange 5G party

France joins Orange 5G party

Orange detailed the launch of its long-awaited domestic 5G service, with 15 municipalities due to receive access from 3 December as France begins to join fellow major European markets in offering next-generation connectivity to consumers.

Orange said in a statement it had chosen to initially launch in areas that are heavily used to avoid risk of saturation, and it would expand its coverage to more than 160 municipalities by the end of the year.

The operator laid out tariff plans and early adopter deals in October, shortly after the country’s 5G auction was completed.

Orange emerged as the biggest winner from the process, obtaining the largest share of frequency blocks available with 90MHz. Its deployment will be on 3.5GHz frequencies, which it said would bring speeds three- to four-times faster than 4G.

Despite being the country’s market leader, Orange’s 5G launch follows rival SFR, which upgraded to 5G last week, but only in the city of Nice.

Bouygues Telecom will also beat Orange to the punch, with plans to launch its service on 1 December, although it is yet to provide details of its rollout.

Orange, however, will clearly have the biggest 5G reach of the three by the end of 2020.

France has notably lagged behind European peers including the UK, Germany and Italy in launching consumer 5G services.

Rejects Atos links
In separate news, Orange dismissed speculation it was working on a project to acquire ICT services company Atos.

Orange was linked to the potential deal after it won a case to recover around €2.2 billion in taxes, funds French media reported would be used for the acquisition.

But in a statement, Orange said a deal for Atos would not be discussed at its next board meeting.


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