January 16, 2018 / 9:00 PM / 8 months ago

France temporarily opens up radio waves to test 5G benefits

* Arcep grants temporary permission to use 5G frequencies

* New technology could change way data is consumed

* Europe lags Asia, U.S. in high-speed mobile internet-Citi

By Mathieu Rosemain and Gwénaëlle Barzic

PARIS, Jan 16 (Reuters) - French telecoms regulator Arcep said it is opening up some radio frequencies to get a better understanding of the benefits and usage of the next generation of mobile internet, known as 5G.

Telecoms operators Orange, SFR Group, Bouygues Telecom and Iliad bought pricey permits to become the first users of frequencies to transport voice and data services in France.

But 5G, which will rely on frequencies that are not yet formally granted, could speed up data transfer to such an extent that it could allow a broader use of the radio spectrum.

“We should avoid a hasty allocation (of the frequencies), as we don’t know what the exact use of 5G will be,” Arcep chairman Sebastien Soriano told Reuters on Tuesday.

The new technology, whose standards are still being discussed globally, is expected to generate peak speeds in 2025 that are more than 30 times higher than the ones recorded in 2015, according to a 2016 report by the European Commission.

KEY TO INTERNET OF THINGS

5G is seen as potential driver for the growth for autonomous vehicles, which rely on connected sensors to drive on roads and Soriano says it will apply from companies involved in everything from infrastructure to manufacturers.

It could also boost the “internet of things” (IoT), which describes a wide-range of objects that are connected to the internet and can collect and exchange data to perform functions such as controlling the heating at home, managing maintenance in factories or monitoring energy consumption.

The two bandwiths that have not yet been allocated are the 3.4-3.8 gigahertz and the 26 gigahertz ones.

Arcep is now giving temporary permission for both to “any interested player” with the aim of gathering relevant information from this test phase.

Under a 2016 plan, the European Union wants to deploy 5G for all urban areas and major terrestrial roads by 2025.

But analysts at Citi say the EU lags the United States and Asian countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea on 5G because of tight regulation and a lack of investment. (Editing by Alexander Smith)

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