France's 5G spectrum price tag rises to at least 2.65 billion euros

FILE PHOTO: Technicians work at the top of transmitting antennas are seen on a mobile-phone network relay mast in Lambres-lez-Douai, France, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) - The total price of France’s 5G spectrum rose to at least 2.65 billion euros (2.42 billion pounds) on Wednesday, the second day of an auction for the airwaves needed for next-generation mobile internet.

The sale, overseen by telecoms regulator Arcep, caps a year-long process for mobile carriers Orange ORAN.PA, Altice Europe's SFR ATCA.AS, Bouygues Telecom BOUY.PA and Iliad ILD.PA. The four companies are competing for the acquisition of 11 blocks of 10 Megahertz (MHz), or 110 MHz.

The price for a single block rose on Wednesday to 114 million euros, from 90 million the previous day, Arcep said, meaning that the total price for the 11 blocks grew by 264 million.

This brings the minimum price for the 5G spectrum to 2.65 billion euros.

The four telecoms operators have not changed their positions since Tuesday, and are collectively asking for 13 blocks: Orange is still asking for five blocks, followed by SFR (three blocks), Bouygues Telecom (three blocks) and Iliad (two blocks), Arcep said.

The auction, which continues as long as the companies ask for more blocks than the 11 on sale, will resume on Thursday.

($1 = 0.8539 euros)

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Pravin Char