The French government and telecom regulator Arcep are inviting industrial players to apply for trial spectrum in the 3.8-4.0 GHz band, saying that successful candidates will receive three-year authorisations to launch 5G pilots. Each interested party will be able to apply for up to 100 MHz of trial spectrum by 31 December. In addition to the private sector, local authorities, universities, R&D labs and similar players can also have access to this new initiative. More details on the award conditions are being made available by Arcep, including restrictions in a number of geographical areas and near airports.

The move is part of the government’s response to recommendations made by Philippe Herbert, president of the “Mission 5G Industrielle” (Industrial 5G Mission), who recently delivered an advisory report on how to accelerate 5G use cases within the country’s industrial sector.

Earlier this month, the publication of this report was followed by a number of announcements by the ministers in charge of industry and digital transition. Among the measures, the government said it would make it easier for stakeholders to access spectrum in the 2.6 GHz TDD band for LTE-based PMR networks. Arcep has now acted on this recommendation by launching a new online portal to facilitate applications, providing a mapping tool to visualise the available spectrum resources by area. 

These latest initiatives complement previous decisions focused on industrial 5G, including the release of trial spectrum in the 26 GHz band and financial support in the form of grants for 5G projects. The 5G licences awarded to the country’s four mobile network operators also encourage the emergence of industrial 5G use cases, for example by requiring the activation of network slicing capabilities by 2023 at the latest.

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