French telecom regulator Arcep expects the commercial roll-out of the next-generation 5G mobile phone network in the country to commence in 2020, to be followed by large-scale commercialisation a decade later.
"The draft procedure... stipulates that all applicants, regardless of whether or not they have chosen to make optional commitments, will be subject to a series of obligations, particularly with respect to regional coverage," said Arcep on the launch of its 5G frequency allocation procedure for telecom operators on Monday.
According to Arcep, 5G deployment would be gradual. By the end of 2020, each operator will be required to offer 5G services in at least two French cities.
By 2025, there should be 12,000 sites in operation, offering 5G to two-thirds of the country's population, reported Xinhua news agency.
Around 20-25 per cent of these 12,000, 3.4-3.8 GHz band sites must be located "in sparsely populated areas targeting economic activities, notably manufacturing".
In accordance with the regulator's plan, operators will be required to "introduce a concomitant mechanism to ensure that non-urban areas will also benefit from these rollouts".
As for the remaining zones, operators will be obliged to offer 5G speed of at least 240 megabits per second (Mbps), which is four times the speed of the current 4G service.
"The intermediate targets give operators flexibility in whether to use 4G or 5G technology, provided they meet the speed requirement. By 2030, however, they must be providing 5G services in all of their sites," Arcep said.
The telecom regulator noted the frequencies will be allocated for a period of 15 years with a possible five-year extension.
Telecom operators have until September 4 to express their comments in a public consultation, according to the statement.
"Arcep will then submit its final text to the government in the weeks that follow," it said.