The number of LTE sites in operation across mainland France increased by 543 in December to reach 38,043 as of 01 January, according to the latest monthly report from spectrum agency ANFR. The total authorised but not yet in service rose by 314 to 42,290. The sites on 1800 MHz frequencies (36,068) have narrowly overtaken those authorised on the 800 MHz band (36,062), which since mid-2016 had been the most commonly used for LTE services.
The 2.6 GHz band has maintained third position (29,744), while authorised sites on 2.1 GHz frequencies (12,211) have remained on a steep upward trend since this band was opened to LTE in the second half of 2017. Free Mobile continued to be the dominant force behind the steady growth in the 700 MHz band, with 5,327 authorised sites out of a total of 6,447.
Bouygues Telecom and SFR both stepped up LTE cell site activations during December, adding 397 and 368 antennas respectively. Orange (+362) progressed at a slower pace compared to previous months, while maintaining the lead in overall active sites (18,184). SFR and Bouygues Telecom totalled 17,229 and 16,948 sites, while Free Mobile added 146 in the month to reach 12,012.
Looking at progress in 5G testing, the spectrum agency revealed that the number of sites authorised for 5G pilots across the country increased to 57, of which Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR held 25, 22 and 10 respectively.
In the French overseas territories, the number of antennas authorised for LTE increased to 2,216, of which 2,021 were in service as of 01 December. Orange remained ahead of rivals with 869 sites in operation across the 1,800 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2.6 GHz frequency bands.