5G is officially activated in France this Wednesday, here’s what you need to know

the essential
The fifth generation of telephony officially enters service this Wednesday, November 18 in France. But faced with the technical challenge and the reluctance of some elected officials, we will have to wait a little longer before it is massively deployed.

It’s official: from this Wednesday, November 18, 5G is active in France. The frequencies of this new generation of mobile network, far from being unanimous, are activated but they will cover only part of the territory, for lack of sufficient installations in the face of the reluctance of some elected officials.

The four telephone operators Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free, winners of auctions for the distribution of frequencies 3.4 – 3.8 GHz (specific to 5G) disputed in October, are therefore “authorized” from Wednesday to ” use these frequencies “, according to Acerp (the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution), which decided and distributed these authorizations on November 12.

Technical constraints

However, we will have to wait a little longer before seeing 5G on our phones. Operators first awaiting the green light from the National Radio Frequency Agency, indicates Europe 1. “It’s a matter of days,” SFR told our colleagues. Orange, for its part, has set itself the goal of deploying 5G in early December.

But this ambition comes up against another technical constraint to cover the territory: the installation of the famous 5G antennas which flourish in France in the nine selected test cities. Arcep has 116 branches in Paris, 95 in Marseille, 89 in Lille, 55 in Nantes, 54 in Montpellier, 24 in Lyon, 22 in Toulouse, 19 in Bordeaux and 5 in Rouen.

Mayors get stuck

This deployment is creaking certain elected environmentalists or left, especially in Lille, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Lyon or Rennes. And if the mayors cannot technically prevent the distribution of this network, they can on the other hand limit access to permits to build antennas.

Their goal: to delay the deployment of 5G, pending the publication of a report from the National Health Security Agency (ANSES), scheduled for spring 2021, on the impact of this network on health. Martine Aubry, mayor of Lille, even adopted a moratorium on October 10, believing that it “is urgent to await” this report.

Because our doubts persist both from a health point of view and digital sobriety on the deployment of 5G, we voted in the Municipal Council of @lillefrance this evening a moratorium. It is urgent to wait!

– Martine Aubry (@MartineAubry) October 9, 2020

“5G shouldn’t be scary”

“5G should not be scary,” for his part pleaded Xavier Niel, founder and boss of Iliad, the parent company of Free, before the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly on Tuesday. “It is a great opportunity to build a more sober, more efficient society, with improved city management.”

“It would be a shame in France to have the best fixed networks, with the fastest fiber offers in Europe, and to be the last European in the mobile world by refusing the 5G market,” he added. . “It is also an image, a perception of France, beyond our borders, which could make us lose (…) part of our attractiveness”, whereas the country “had become a main destination for investors “before the Covid-19 crisis, according to the telecoms magnate.

New phones and new plans

But who says 5G, says compatible phone. A few brands, including Apple with its iPhone 12 (the first 5G smartphone to hit the market), Samsung and Huawei, have launched 5G models. As for packages, only Orange and Bouygues Telecom have so far communicated their 5G commercial offers aimed at the general public, Free evoking a launch in “the coming weeks”.

Xavier Niel also confirmed that negotiations would take place between Orange and Free for a 5G network sharing agreement, in particular “in relatively low density areas”.