Since the government wants rapid allocation of mobile frequencies in the 700 MHz band constituting the second digital dividend, while operators are still digesting the first, the new president of theArcep, Sébastien Soriano, is directly at the heart of this highly strategic dossier.
Heard by the Senate, he explained his course of action based on an already validated decision concerning an award process which must be carried out in december 2015 before a frequency transfer from 2017, or a little before as needed.
Arcep has already launched a public consultation on the subject in December in order to gather the opinions of market players on the terms and organization of the auction but the regulator will have to deal with the difficulties of the file, starting with a tight schedule (the award was initially expected for 2019).
Sébastien Soriano believes that he is "not untenable"… but does not depend entirely on the decisions of Arcep. He recalled that the government must always fix the royalty price that operators will have to pay in order to operate the new frequencies.
He also underlined the difficulty represented by frequencies leased by operators from the end of 2015 for several billion euros but which will not be not accessible before the end of 2017 and most of which do not have an immediate need while they are busy building 4G coverage on the 800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands previously obtained.
Yes free mobile is thirsty for the new frequencies made available, this is not the case for other operators who have invested heavily in the previous auction (Free Mobile much less). Sébastien Soriano therefore wants to ensure that the regulator can fully play his role as arbitrator: "we will be vigilant with the overall balance. There is no plan to favor this or that actor".