Despite limited initial access, 5G is becoming a reality in France

Official kick-off for 5G: the new generation of mobile network will become a reality in France without however immediately causing the promised technological “revolution”, due to still limited access on the territory and a climate of mistrust persistent.

From Wednesday, date of official activation of frequencies retained by the telecoms regulator, the 5G logo will theoretically be able to be displayed on the screens of French smartphones, like a large majority of their main European neighbors. .

On the condition, however, of owning a latest generation terminal with a dedicated subscription, and above all of living in an area covered by the new network.

However, the 5G service is only available for the moment in areas where operators have installed suitable antennas during the experimentation phase.

According to the latest public data, the National Frequency Agency had counted a little less than 500 in the nine test cities chosen: Paris (116), Marseille (95), Lille (89), Nantes (55), Montpellier (54 ), Lyon (24), Toulouse (22), Bordeaux (19) and Rouen (5).

This makes the operators very cautious, who have paid 2.789 billion euros to the State to afford 5G frequencies, as to a commercial take-off before the end of year holidays.

– Flight planned for 2021 –

Sales of 5G packages will “not reach large volumes this winter”, for example warned the CEO of Orange, Stéphane Richard, in early November on BFM Business.

“This is a subject for 2021, the first half and especially the second half” when the network will ramp up as the current 4G installations can also offer 5G, he added.

“When a new service arrives, it is rare for suppliers to say: We are launching it but it will not be terrible”, reports to AFP Guillaume Vaquero, telecoms expert for the Wavestone firm. “It shows they don’t want disappointment.”

“Today, the customers who will acquire these 5G offers are mainly the most technophiles”, supports Sylvain Chevallier, partner in charge of telecoms within the firm BearingPoint. “In a year, it will be more Mr. and Mrs. everyone, when there will be a network that will be deployed at the national level.”

According to the deployment obligations set by Arcep, each operator will have to install 3,000 new pylons by 2022, then reach 8,000 in 2024 and finally 10,500 in 2025.

– “Consultation” with town halls –

Only Orange and Bouygues Telecom have so far communicated their commercial offers intended for the general public. But being able to quickly offer 5G service, despite the limited network, is above all an “image issue”, according to analysts.

“You have to be seen as an innovative operator because if this is not the case, you lose your customers”, explains Guillaume Vaquero.

The fact remains that 5G continues to worry part of the public, wary of the health and environmental effects of electromagnetic waves.

Several green or left-wing mayors of large cities, notably in Lille, have already declared themselves in favor of a moratorium until the publication scheduled for spring 2021 of a report from the National Health Security Agency (Anses).

“Companies are rather asking for fiber!” Hammered Eric Piolle, the mayor of Grenoble (EELV), during a conference organized by Medef in early November.

“These technological and societal developments, at the service of what aspirations are they? Do we let ourselves be carried away just because it is like that?”, He added, referring to a necessary “democratic debate”.

Are these positions likely to delay the arrival of 5G in certain territories? “There are going to be procedures that will perhaps put certain deployments on + stand by +. This will probably be a brake”, forecasts an expert in the sector.

“We invite operators to be in dialogue with local elected officials, and if there are consultations organized by municipalities, to register”, argued Sébastien Soriano, president of Arcep, at the outcome of the auction. “We hope they will be a matter of a few weeks rather than a few months.”

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