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December 03, 2010

France Expects to Auction Off 4G Wireless Frequencies in 2011
By Ed Silverstein
TMCnet Contributor

With countries such as United States unveiling fourth generation (4G) phone service, France is coming on board, too.

French government officials said that the nation’s auction of 4G frequencies should be completed by the summer of 2011.

Industry Minister Eric Besson said price and terms have yet to be decided, according to a report from Reuters. Besson predicts that the auction could raise 2 billion euros. As of Friday, 1 euro equaled 1.3 U.S. dollars.

Reuters (News - Alert) speculates that France Telecom, Bouygues and Iliad may be bidding on the frequencies.

One issue that the French regulators are concerned about is that rural areas of the country also get coverage. It is an issue throughout much of Europe – that a digital divide keeps many areas from getting cutting-edge technology.

Reuters says operators see a great need in urban areas. In France and other nations, 4G will alleviate the strain on networks because of the rapid growth in the use of laptops, smartphones and other devices.

Reuters reports that France Telecom (News - Alert) has already started to test 4G technology.

In a related matter, TMCnet reports that ABI Research estimates there are now more than 500 3G network commitments, and over 300 WiMAX and LTE (News - Alert) announcements worldwide.

ABI Research says that this means more than 2 billion people are covered by high-speed data networks, according to the TMCnet story. It adds that data, from ABI Research (News - Alert), say that nearly 82 percent of the people in Western Europe are now covered by 3G networks. About 12 percent of the people living in the Asia-Pacific region have access to 3G services, the research adds.

However, government bureaucracy is delaying the adoption of advanced technology in some regions, says TMCnet. "While many networks in U.S. and Europe are working towards complete coverage for 3G services, some mobile operators in other regions find themselves tangled up with government bureaucracy, which impedes progress in upgrading the network technology," said ABI Research mobile services research practice director Neil Strother, who was quoted by TMCnet. "India has at last concluded its 3G spectrum auction after repeated delays and Thailand's attempt to catch up with 3G licensing has once again stalled due to reorganization of the telecoms regulator."

Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco


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