France’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers SFR has announced the launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Lille, the fifth Arrondissement in France to benefit from the superfast mobile broadband technology. According to the operator’s press release, the company will accelerate the LTE rollout in the second half of 2013, with its 4G services to be commercially introduced to Toulouse and Strasbourg by the end of June 2013, while the total number of cities with LTE network coverage is set to reach 55 by the end of the year, including Nantes, Toulon, Grenoble, Rouen, Avignon, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne, Rennes, Metz, Nancy, Orleans, Clermont-Ferrand, Angers, Reims, Caen, Chambery, Amiens and Annecy, to name a few. By the end of 2013, SRF expects to offer DC-HSPA+ and LTE networks to over 70% of the population.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, In December 2011 SFR won two 10MHz duplex frequency lots in the government’s 800MHz band auction. The company said that the combination of 2.6GHz and 800MHz frequencies would enable it to deploy 4G services nationwide, with the higher frequencies suitable for urban deployments and the 800MHz spectrum being used to offer wider coverage in other areas. The total investment in 4G spectrum was more than EUR1.2 billion (USD1.55 billion). SFR introduced LTE services offering a theoretical maximum speed of 100Mbps in Lyon at the end of November 2012, and later on expanded its 4G network to include Montpellier and Paris La Defense, while in March 2013, Marseille became the fourth Arrondissement with LTE coverage.