Sébastien Soriano, the president of Arcep, gave an interview to Le Parisien to talk about 4G. It is particularly about the coverage and the end of the white zones in France.
France has fallen behind with 4G and Sébastien Soriano recognizes it. “Together we underestimated how important the mobile Internet is for the lives of our fellow citizens,” he said. “We anticipated the interest in fiber optics, but awareness of cell phones took time,” added the telecommunications gendarme president. But the situation has changed.
The 4G coverage of the area by the four operators was 45% in January 2018. It rose to 76% in July 2020 and one operator even rose to 96%. It is entirely possible that it was orange, but its name is not disclosed. “It’s a colossal part of France that is moving from shadow to light in terms of the speed of mobile internet,” says Sébastien Soriano.
The New Deal Cellular Agreement with Operators
He also lives on the New Deal cell phone. This January 2018 agreement was signed between the state and the four operators. The state has allocated 2G and 3G frequencies to operators without putting them up for auction. In return, he received a significant commitment to cellular coverage. “This plan provides for the migration of all old networks to 4G by the end of 2020,” says Sébastien Soriano. Even so, he admits that “some small areas will be covered by 2022”.
Have the operators met their obligations? It’s positive, says the president of L’Arche. “They have built 90% of the expected sites and the missing 10% are being examined on a case-by-case basis to see if the delays are justified,” he explains. This sometimes happens due to resistance from local residents or legal disputes from mayors. Add to that the containment of the spring, which didn’t help. But the operators were able to catch up.
End of the white zones and 5G deployment
As for the white areas, Sébastien Soriano wants to be confident. “The goal of 100% 4G coverage is by the end of 2022,” he explains. Regarding 5G, he explains that it will be available in the capital cities at launch. However, the operators must also concentrate on rural or urban areas. “We want to avoid reproducing the digital divide of 4G,” said the president of the telecommunications gendarme.