Orange will get financing from EIB to enlarge 4G, 5G infra in France

Orange said the new financing will enable the telco to boost 4G networks in rural parts of France

French operator Orange has secured financing for a total of 500 million euro ($530 million) from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to partly finance the deployment of 5G and boost 4G networks in rural areas of France.

In a release, Orange said that the new financing is aligned with its new strategic plan, dubbed “Lead the future”, which aims, in part, to capitalize on the company’s current infrastructure.

“Thanks to this new loan, the EIB supports Orange in the deployment of its innovation strategy around 5G and its digital inclusion objectives,” said Ramon Fernandez, deputy CEO of Finance, Performance and Development at Orange. “This financing will enable Orange to strengthen its leadership in the mobile network in France, whether in terms of network coverage, indoor network quality, voice quality and experience for all of its 5G and 4G customers.”

EIB VP Ambroise Fayolle said: “The financing of network infrastructure that is essential for improving connectivity in the European Union is one of the Public Bank of Europe’s investment priorities. “To succeed, the digital transition requires that the whole of France be able to benefit from very good quality Internet access, including in the least densely populated rural areas, so as to enhance their attractiveness and make life easier for those who live there,” Fayolle added.

Orange has already deployed 5G in nearly 900 municipalities across France, providing coverage to 38% of population in metropolitan areas. Orange had initially launched commercial 5G services in 15 municipalities at the beginning of December 2020.

France had a total of 38,745 authorized 5G sites as of February 1, of which 29,753 were declared technically operational by local operators, according to the latest monthly report published by France’s spectrum agency ANFR.

The agency noted that the number of authorized 5G sites during the first month of 2022 increased by 1.6% compared to the previous month.

The agency also said that almost all of the 5G sites have been authorized on existing cellular sites, already used by 2G, 3G or 4G technologies.

In France, mobile operators are currently providing 5G services through spectrum in 700 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands.

ANFR said that a total of 21,073 sites are authorized in the 700 MHz band (Free Mobile), of which 16,604 are already technically operational. Also, ANFR said that 17,041 sites are authorized in the 2.1 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), but 11,125 are technically operational.

Meanwhile, 23,994 sites are authorized in the 3.5 GHz band (Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR), of which 16,718 are declared technically operational.

Free Mobile had the highest number of operational 5G sites as of the end of January, with 16,610, followed by Bouygues Telecom (9,977), SFR (8,589) and Orange (5,843).

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