In France, the 5G logo started appearing on the screens of smartphones as the country officially activated frequencies on Wednesday.
The newest mobile technology is only available in areas where operators have set up some 500 antennae used in test phases, all of them concentrated around nine cities including Paris, Marseille and Lyon.
Telecoms providers have put forward nearly 3 billion euros to obtain frequencies, even if they did not expect a rapid adoption of the networks.
The sales of 5G plans will “not attain great numbers this winter”, telecom operator Orange’s CEO Stéphane Richard said in early November. “It’s a topic for 2021, especially in the second half,” when the network expands, he said.
“Customers who sign up to 5G today will be mainly the most technophile,” said Sylvain Chevallier, telecoms associate at consultancy BearingPoint. “In a year, when the network is rolled out at the national level, it will be your average Jill and average Joe.”
As per regulations, each operator must set up 3,000 transmission towers by 2022, expand to 8,000 in 2024 and attain 10,500 in 2025.
However, there are concerns that this new technology has come with some health and environmental consequences of electromagnetic waves.
“It would be a shame for France to have the best land network, with the best fibre optic network in Europe, and to be the last in mobile networks by refusing the 5G market,” Xavier Niel, CEO of Free’s holding company, told MPs on Tuesday.
“It’s also an image or perception of France abroad that could cause us to lose our competitive edge,” Niel said.