The French telecommunications office ARCEP has issued an invitation tender for the 700 MHz band being vacated by the country’s DTT broadcasters. It’s envisaged the capacity will go to telecom operators for mobile broadband services.

A multiround auction will see the sale of six x 5 MHz blocks. The government has set a reserve price of €416 million in each block; it has also attached a series of coverage obligations that ARCEP says are as strong as those attached to the 800 MHz band already in use by the mobile sector.

In addition, a single candidate cannot acquire more than 2 × 15 MHz in the 700 MHz band or more than 2 × 30 MHz of low-frequency spectrum.

Companies that are expected to include Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom and Free, have until September 29, 2015 to lodge their bids.

The 700MHz band will be cleared on a gradual basis between 2016 and 2019.