French telecom regulator ARCEP is expected to unveil details of its plant to allocate UHF spectrum in the 700MHz band imminently, following the completion of a study by a dedicated team of engineers, lawyers and economists, due to be submitted tomorrow.
According to newspaper Les Echos, ARCEP and the government have been seeking a way of allocating spectrum that would more or less guarantee that some frequencies are allocated to Free, which currently has less spectrum at its disposal than rivals Orange, Numericable-SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
The allocation could involve a first round where four blocks of 5MHz are allocated at a fixed price, giving each of the four main telecom service providers a chance to acquire frequencies. A second and subsequent rounds would involve competitive bidding for the remaining 10MHz that are up for grabs.
Free has been pleading for special treatment in the allocation of 700MHz frequencies to level the playing field, going as far as arguing that one lot of frequencies should be guaranteed to it, a move that provoked a strong reaction from its rivals.
The government is expected to issue a formal call for applications next month.