France’s mobile operators have defended the slow rollout of 5G coverage in rural parts of the country, blaming rising energy costs.
The French Telecom Federation (FFF), which represents three of the four main operators in France (Bouygues, Orange and SFR, but not toll-free), said on its website: “ [Due to the soaring price of energy] The pace of 5G deployment in sparsely populated areas could be reconsidered.
The slowdown was confirmed by the Ministry of Finance, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Post and Press Distribution (ARCIP) and the House of Representatives.
He said: “Modify the 5G rollout commitments […] Short and medium term energy gains in rural areas. Profit is estimated at 1.4% in 2023.
On the other hand, meeting other requirements of FFF 5G, including “deployment on highways,” will result in a gross margin of 5% next year.
FFF told Merci Pour l’info: “As part of the government’s plan for digital simplicity, operators have identified ways to reduce electricity consumption for the grids. The operators will work to ensure that these mechanisms available to the government are integrated across the territory.
“The operators are asking above all to ensure the supply of the network this winter,” he explains.
FFF adheres to specifications initially published by Arcep in 2019. These indicate that operators are committed to deploying 3,000 5G antennas in 2022, 8,000 in 2024 and 10,000 in 2025. 20 to 25% of these are for rural areas.
Operators are currently ahead of schedule, but antennas have so far been installed only in major cities.
Read more: Update: Where is 5G in France currently located and where is it being deployed?
5G is controversial in France
The 5G network was controversial in France even before its launch in November 2020. Some have repeated the dubious theory that the network was responsible for the Covid pandemic, causing its masts to burn.
5G should technically reach rural areas of France, but in some areas 3G and 4G are not yet reliable.
In July 2019, Pierre-Marie Georges, a spokesperson for the Association of Rural Mayors in France, said that including rural areas in the 5G plan was a “step forward”. But even then, he said, the association fears that promises for rural areas will not be kept.
He said, “Despite government pressure, operators are still not fulfilling their commitment to provide 4G in all rural areas. We are talking about no signal.empty areaEven after 20 years, the problem still hasn’t been solved.
“One-third of the country is rural and has a population of 20 million, so a rural coverage of 25% is not enough. We are vigilant. New technologies must be accessible to all.
Read more: Discover the launch of the new 5G mobile technology in France
The difference between 4G and 5G is stark, as the new technology has huge potential for industries including medicine, healthcare, self-driving cars, and agriculture.
For comparison: a photo that takes 1 hour 40 minutes to download on 4G takes 20 minutes on 5G.
5G works over higher frequencies and allows more devices to access the internet at the same time at faster speeds. However, higher frequency waves travel shorter distances and do not penetrate buildings as easily (for indoor coverage). This means that a large number of small masts are required near the dwellings.
The main masts transmit signals only when called for. This contrasts with the current masts which broadcast waves continuously.
Some have called it a “mobile revolution,” but others fear it poses serious health and environmental risks. In 2022, the French health authority Ances said that 5G poses no health risks, and a first report in April 2021 said the same.
Further investigation of this issue by several national agencies, including the National Frequency Monitoring Agency (ANFR), found that recorded levels for 5G were 50 to 1,000 times lower than current limits recommended to protect human health.
In 2020, President Emmanuel Macron controversially said that advocates of a ban on the technology wanted to “return to the era of kerosene lamps”.
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