The UFC has come up against the operators, which it accuses of deliberately hiding information around the deployment of 5G. According to her, the maps provided on their respective sites are confusing, while the lack of data on the frequencies used is turned to their advantage. The association put Bouygues Telecom, Free and SFR on notice.
That’s it, the network of the future has officially arrived in France. Since Free joined the dance, all operators now offer 5G packages. The opportunity for the UFC-Que Choisir to analyze the communication of the latter and denounce their practices, which it judges deliberately confused. “Behind the generic term 5G hides very contrasting realities in connection with the different frequencies used.”, she explains. “Indeed, if the new 3.5 GHz mobile frequency is able to offer speeds very significantly higher than those of 4G, it is not the same for the other frequencies used or in the process of being used, namely the frequencies 700 MHz and 2100 MHz“.
The association is even going more less by declaring that the speeds offered by the operators “Justify not […] the purchase of often more expensive 5G subscriptions, nor the dedicated purchase of 5G compatible smartphones ”. Faced with this observation, the UFC-Que Choisir deplores ARCEP’s decision to publish only simple recommendations, instead of putting in place measures legally obliging operators to offer more transparent communication. After studying the coverage maps disseminated by the latter, the organization considers that its fears have been justified and points the finger at “Specious marketing”.
UFC-Que Choisir denounces operator confusion
SFR is the first to be targeted. After announcing the list of the 120 cities in France covered by in December 2020, the operator posted a map to say the least imprecise. “Given the terms used, consumers uninformed about the intricacies of 5G will in no way know […] what differentiates the areas covered on the 3.5 GHz or 2100 MHz band ”, declares the UFC-Que Choisir. It also specifies that the latter frequency allows 5 times less important than the first. As a reminder, these flows are therefore substantially close to those of 4G.
The situation is hardly better on the side of Bouygues Telecom. On his map, the distinction made between 3.5 GHz frequencies and lower frequencies is far from clear, judge the UFC-Que Choisir. “Bouygues Telecom adopts a practice aimed at suggesting that there is an equivalence of quality between the two frequencies, by attributing them the same qualifier of“ High bands ”“. In addition, the association considers that the operator does not disclose no precise information to consumers allowing them to understand that the speed difference is likely to be minimal.
Only the Orange card seems to respect the prerogatives in terms of information. Indeed, the operator has promised speeds 3 to 4 times faster than 4G, which it obtains by using only 3.5 GHz frequencies, it suffices to show the areas covered without specifying the speeds granted. However, the UFC-Que Choisir recalls that these devices only make it possible to obtain a maximum flow of 1.6Gbit / s, against the announced 2.1 Gbit / s. Whether it is a lack of clarity or false advertising, the organization is responsible for reviewing its communication.
As for Free, the UFC-Que Choisir affirms that the integration of 5G packages without price increase is explained by its decision to use 7 frequencies00 MHz, “Which offers the lowest 5G speeds and equivalent to those previously provided in 4G”. Although 96% of branches of the operator are set to this frequency, it does not disclose any information on this subject and even boasts of the speed of its network, although it is much less optimal than that of its competitors.
Bouygues Telecom, Free and SFR put on formal notice
After its edifying investigation, the association decided to launch a judiciary process against three of the operators. It thus indicates putting in default “Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile and SFR to modify the presentation of their coverage maps, to visibly show the differences in the quality of 5G depending on the frequency used ”. As for Orange, she asks him “to provide all the technical details supporting its communication on the theoretical maximum speed in areas where the operator operates only the 3.5 GHz frequency ”.
Finally, UFC-Que Choisir has approached ARCEP and Cédric O, Secretary of State for the digital transition and electronic communications, so that the latter “Work without delay on the development of regulations governing operators’ communication on 5G to guarantee consumers reliable, understandable and relevant information”. So let’s hope that his press release helped some to see a little more clearly about the real promises of 5G.
Source: UFC-Que Choisir