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The eco brief. 5G auctions auctioned for nearly 3 billion euros: profitable for the State?

A 5G antenna installed in Pekin (China). Illustrative photo. (NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)

The subject is controversial but it pays off. The allocation of the first 5G frequencies to French operators brought in 2.786 billion euros for the StateLet's look at what this famous auction of 5G frequencies gave after three days during which the French telephone operators (Orange, Bouygues-Telecom, SFR and Free) shared the cake. Orange won most of the frequencies with 90 Mhz of spectrum, against 80 for SFR, 70 Mhz each for Bouyges Telecom and Free.

These are “blocks” of frequencies. By block, it is necessary to understand the number of frequencies bought by the telephone groups to use them then on the territories. The more frequencies operators buy (in “blocks”), the better the speeds they will offer their customers in the field.

The public authorities did not repeat the mistake of the first auctions in 2001 to allocate 3G frequencies (we were around 20 billion euros). At the time, the state viewed operators as very profitable and charged them dearly for frequencies. The money that went into public coffers had not been invested in infrastructure, hence our delay today. Sweden had done the opposite: the country had bet on the coverage of the territory and let operators invest without considering them as cash cows. Conclusion: Sweden was the first best equipped country in Europe. This is still true today.

5G will therefore be able to take shape in France. Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Free will receive their licenses in the coming weeks. The first offers will be offered by the end of December but the construction of the networks will be spread over several years, initially equipping the centers of large cities.

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