Bouygues says France should postpone 5G auction until year-end due to COVID-19 – Latest news

PARIS: France should postpone its planned auction of 5G frequencies in late 2020 or early 2021 due to uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus crisis, the head of one of France's leading conglomerates said Saturday.

In February, French telecoms regulator Arcep had said it expected to grant 5G licenses by June, but after France entered the virus blockade in mid-March, Arcep postponed the sale, saying a new date would depend on the progression. of the health crisis.

"We need to delay the auction date simply because today's economic world is not the same as it was in early March, when the terms of the auction were set," said Martin Bouygues, CEO of Bouygues Telecom's parent company, at the French newspaper. Le Figaro.

Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR had already submitted a tender package for some frequencies in February.

"It is true that telecommunications operators have escaped the crisis relatively unscathed, but it is reasonable to think that they can buy frequencies whose price was established earlier this year, when the economy was booming, whereas now it seems that growth in 2020 it could fall 8% and the recession will certainly last? he said.

He said the pandemic had shown that it is essential that everyone have an Internet connection and that citizens find it more important to have 4G in all regions of France than to have 5G in big cities.

He added that while 5G is very promising, the technology is far from mature and that for a broader audience, truly innovative applications will not arrive before 2023-24.

He added that Bouygues would participate in the 5G auction every time it is held.

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