Fifth generation mobile network technology launched in France in late 2020. One year on, we see a fiercely competitive 5G market in Opensignal's first report on the 5G experience. Five of the awards are shared between multiple operators. Only Orange pulls clear of the competition to win both 5G speed awards outright.
It's still early days for 5G with operators continuing to expand their 5G services. While Free Mobile and Bouygues jointly win the 5G Availability award in this report — representing the proportion of time when users had an active 5G connection — their scores were still relatively low at under 15% of the time. It's a similar story on 5G Reach, which represents the share of locations where users have seen 5G services. On a 10-point scale, operator scores range from 2 to 3.4, meaning that in over two thirds of locations our 5G users failed to find a 5G signal.
Looking at a report from Arcep, the telecom regulator, we see further context on the extent of 5G across the country. Free Mobile has deployed a lot of 5G sites using low frequencies — in the 700 MHz band — that is good for coverage but is less ideal for supporting very fast 5G speeds. By comparison, Orange has the majority of its sites supporting the 3.5 GHz mid-band that has higher capacity which helps to explain Orange's success in Opensignal's 5G speed awards.
5G is set to transform the mobile network experience in France over the coming years. Already, we see much faster speeds using 5G and many higher scores for video, games and voice app experience with 5G than the overall experience across all our users.