Rural France in line for Europe’s fastest LTE service

Bouygues Telecom has entered into exclusive negotiations with rival Free to sell its mobile phone network and portfolio of frequencies for “up to €1.8bn”

The future for fast internet in rural areas of France has received a boost with the announcement by Éric Besson, Minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy, that mobile operators would be able to acquire two blocks of 15MHz channels in the 800MHz band. One would be used for download and the other dedicated to upload.

This band of spectrum is ideal for covering rural areas thanks to low frequencies having a greater range, but in Germany and Sweden, which have already had their digital dividend, the 800MHz has only been offered in blocks of 10MHz. A 15MHz block would enable operators to offer faster speeds, which would mean that France’s remote areas could eventually be enjoying the speediest, fastest mobile broadband in the whole of Europe.

However, there are stumbling blocks in the way, not least of which is that while base stations are compatible with the wider frequencies, terminal devices are not. Many of these already have issues switching between LTE and 3G signals so adding compatibility for wider frequency bands could just complicate the issue.

Arcep, the French telecoms regulator will be opening the bidding for LTE spectrum at the end of May, a short delay from the originally announced timeframe.

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