4G and 5G networks: update on deployments as of January 1

ANFR is a public institution that manages all radio frequencies in France. Indeed, they are used for all wireless communications: transport, Internet of Things, television, national defense, industry… In the mobile telecommunications sector, its missions mainly consist of managing radio frequency assignmentto authorize the sites ofantenna installationsor to ensure compliance with limit values regulations for public exposure to electromagnetic waves.


4G, 5G: which of the 4 operators is the best equipped?


Each month, the ANFR observatory updates its data concerning the deployment of mobile networks, in partnership with Cartoradio.fr, the mapping platform that lists all the sites. Nowadays, 63,102 antennas or “mobile network sites” were identified, all generations combined. That’s 245 more than last month. We find them on our map of 3G / 4G / 5G mobile phone antennas in France.


Update on 4G:


Authorizations and commissioning continued to increase by 0.6% and 0.8% respectively in December (compared to 0.5% in November), to soon reach 60,000 authorized sites, including almost 55,000 in service, broken down as follows:


  • Orange : 28,975 sites (+ 152 in December)
  • SFR : 24,365 sites (+ 173 in December)
  • Bouygues Telecom : 24,340 sites (+ 234 in December)
  • Free : 23,5424 (+ 272 in December)


We see thatOrange, largely in the lead with more than 4,000 sites more than its competitors, is the operator which deployed the fewest new antennas last December. A situation opposite to that of Free which has the least stocked fleet, but which continues to invest to catch upand thus joins SFR and Bouygues Telecom in a pocket handkerchief.


5G update:


Deployment continues, and just over 38,100 sites are authorized to date, including 164 overseas, on pre-existing branches. However, we remain below the 30,000 commissioning mark : 29,315 exactly (77% of sites are operational according to the operators). This figure has almost doubled in just one year!


In mainland France, the 5G network currently uses 3 different frequency bands, and each of the operators made a different strategic choice. Warning: almost all authorized sites are shared, so the sum of authorized sites per frequency band is higher than the total of authorized media.


  • 23,132 in the new 3.5 GHz band, of which 16,121 are declared technically operational
  • 16,617 in the 2100 MHz band, of which 10,632 are declared technically operational;
  • 20,877 in the 700 MHz band, of which 16,519 are declared technically operational.


Free stands out for its unique occupation of the lowest frequency of 700 MHz, which allows the best coverage, and the best penetration into buildings. This is undoubtedly the reason for his success in rural environment. In return, the throughput is lower. The two highest frequencies offer the best compromise to balance coverage and throughputessential in the city, and the latest authorized frequency of 3.5 GHz is particularly fast.


We therefore note that Orange continues to bet almost exclusively on the 3.5 GHz frequency, even if it means displaying less coverage compared to Free. The operator thus intends to offer a differentiated customer experience compared to 4G. For its part, Bouygues Telecom deploys many sites in 2.1 Ghz (formerly used for 3G) while SFR relies on a balanced deployment between the 2 frequencies.


So here you are armed to know how test the best mobile network near youwell choose your future 5G plan !

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4G and 5G networks: update on deployments as of January 1


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