Analysis of the French Spectrum Auction

By | September 23, 2011

Yesterday, ARCEP announced the results of the 2.6 GHz FDD spectrum auction in France. A total of 140 MHz was sold off for a total of €936 million ($1.26 billion), far exceeding the reserve price of €700 million. Good news for the French government!

The winners and their bids are summarized in the table below. On average, the cost of a MHz per inhabitant (€/MHz-PoP) is €0.106. This is about three times higher than was paid recently in both Spain and Germany where the cost per MHz-PoP was €0.027 and €0.023, respectively.

Operator Bandwidth


Bouygues Telecom 2×15 MHz


Free Mobile 2×20 MHz


Orange France 2×20 MHz


SFR 2×15 MHz


Total 140 MHz



This spectrum is mostly slated for LTE use, and in particular operators may find it very suitable for small cell deployments. Operators are getting to recognize than small cells are needed to boost throughput performance. Having low cost spectrum goes a long way in reducing the total cost of deploying and operating a small cell network, even as a complementary one to a macro-cell overlay.

Comparative Pricing of Recent 2.6 GHz Spectrum Auctions

Yet to be auctioned is the 800 MHz digital dividend band which is slated for end of the year and the 2.6 GHz TDD band which covers 2.57 – 2.62 GHz.