New world. Four months late, Paris turns on 5G on Friday March 19


A telephone relay antenna and the business district of La Défense in Paris. Illustrative photo.
A telephone relay antenna and the business district of La Défense in Paris. Illustrative photo. (THOMAS PADILLA / MAXPPP)

SFR, Orange, Bouygues Telecom and Free. The four telecom operators press the button on Friday March 19 to activate 5G in Paris. Starting with 80 sites per operator, this should cover around 80% of the population.

It wasn’t easy. 5G started last November in Nice.
But, in Paris, as in other cities such as Lille, Grenoble or Bordeaux, elected environmentalists have stood up. Even if the municipalities do not have the legal power to oppose, everyone therefore preferred to proceed cautiously. To demine the affair politically, Anne Hidalgo has set up a citizens’ convention. There have been concessions, such as reduced power emissions and a commitment by operators to the recycling of mobile terminals. But this still delayed the opening of the network by four months, making Paris arguably the only world capital to shun the new generation of mobile telecommunications. On the other side of the ring road, 5G has been available in all neighboring municipalities for several months.

5G is the promise of better speeds. But, in reality, the account is not really there. The measures in cities that are already equipped are quite disappointing. In Nice, for example, 5G is proving, in places, less good or barely better than 4G, especially on uplink speeds. This is due to the frequency bands used on certain sites (700 MHz instead of 3.5 GHz) and also to the fact that the operators’ core networks are not yet compatible with the new technology. They should be in a year or two.

But the promise of 5G is also an increase in network capacity, which should help relieve 4G. This makes sense especially in a city like Paris which is densely populated and where connections are starting to become difficult in places. Finally, 5G is the promise of new technological applications and a factor of economic attractiveness for companies in the capital.


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