The number of LTE sites in operation across mainland France increased by 530 in October to reach 36,928 as of 01 November, based on the latest report from spectrum agency ANFR. On a monthly basis, Orange stepped up its activity activating 489 new antennas (+204 in September), and strengthening its lead in overall sites with 17,378 in service.
Free Mobile progressed at a slightly faster pace month-on-month with 223 additions, for a total of 11,644. SFR maintained its runner-up position in overall sites (16,603), after 203 new activations during October, while Bouygues Telecom’s footprint increased by 151 to reach 16,361.
In the French overseas territories, the number of antennas authorised for LTE increased to 2,134, of which 1,967 were in service as of 01 November. Orange remained ahead of rivals with 852 cell sites in operation, spread across the 1,800 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2.6 GHz frequency bands.
In mainland France, the 800 MHz band remained the most commonly used for LTE services, with 29,780 sites in operation. The 1,800 MHz band progressed to 27,048 active sites, while 2.6 GHz frequencies reached 22,857 overall.
As in previous months, the 700 MHz band (mainly used by Free Mobile) and the 2.1 GHz band (authorised for LTE since the second half of 2017) continued to experience the fastest month-on-month growth rates, as their footprints increased to 2,996 and 5,662 active cell sites respectively.
On 01 October, the 700 MHz clearance project hit a new milestone, as the fifth geographical area in the roadmap completed the planned release of spectrum, enabling operators to start using it for LTE services. Three more geographical areas are scheduled to bring to an end the clearance process between January and July next year.