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45 apply for French WiMAX licences
[January 10, 2006]

45 apply for French WiMAX licences

(Total Telecom Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)French posts and telecoms regulator ARCEP announced Tuesday that 45 companies and consortia have formally applied for WiMAX licences.

The deadline for applications for licences to operate in the 3.4 GHz-3.6 GHz band passed on 6 January. Candidates were invited to submit applications for concessions in the 22 regions of metropolitan France, plus the country's overseas territories of French Guiana, Mayotte and Saint-Pierre et Miquelon.

In a statement ARCEP revealed that eight firms have applied for licences in more than 18 regions, with a number requesting licences in all 22 metropolitan regions: France Telecom, Neuf Telecom, SFR, Maxtel, Bollore and OT Wireless Europe. The incumbent was the only applicant to request licences in all 22 regions plus the overseas territories.

Some 18 companies requested licences in just one territory, a number of these being regional councils, while four applied for infra-regional licences. Ten submitted applications for spectrum only in French Guiana, Mayotte or Saint-Pierre et Miquelon.

In the 22 French regions, French Guiana and Mayotte, requests exceeded the amount of spectrum available. As a result the interested parties are required to submit further documentation to ARCEP by 1 February so the selection procedure can take place.

Just three companies France Telecom, Mediaserv and Omtel applied for licences in the North American territory of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, meaning that the amount of spectrum requested was either equal to or less than that available. ARCEP and the relevant authority in the territory will allocate licences in due course.

In a separate statement published Monday to mark the start of the new year, ARCEP noted that French broadband subscribers have now exceeded 9 million.

And the regulator was keen to point out that broadband is not restricted to high-speed Internet access, with more than 2 million subscribers regularly using VoIP, four times the number recorded a year ago. Furthermore, half a million watch TV over ADSL.

The regulator also revealed that according to international market research firm Dataxis, in mid-2005 France Telecom became the second-largest ADSL player in the world, behind China Telecom and ahead of SBC.

In addition to pledging to monitor the MVNO space in France into 2006, ARCEP committed to tackling the problem of DSL coverage in certain locations, proposing the use of satellite, WiFi and WiMAX technologies to extend reach.

It noted that WiMAX licensing will enable new and existing operators to use that spectrum to extend coverage, but has also recommended that the 5-GHz frequency band be opened up for high-powered WiFi applications designed for local coverage projects.

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