The deployment of 5G in France has been a long time coming as France is considered one of the readiest European countries, mostly in terms of the already existing ICT industry and government reception of new technology. 5G would indeed be beneficial for the development of the concept of "smart city”, particularly in terms of energy management and autonomous transportation, the possible impact on health or biodiversity as well as energy costs. These are the points most often raised in discussions.
5G represents a big leap compared to 4G, offering significantly higher speeds, extremely short latency, and a high number of simultaneous connections on the same surface. As the demand for data reaches new heights, notably through the explosively widespread use of smartphones, connected objects or cloud computing, 5G is proving to be vital in an increasingly domotized world. Fiber internet and LTE are considered cornerstones of 5G deployment.
Mobile operators were quick to adapt and anticipate the arrival of 5G by setting up antennas and sites over the whole French territory. As of 2020, Orange was the network operator that set up the highest number of 5G antennas being tested, while Free Mobile had the most 5G sites, mostly with a bandwidth between 700 and 800 MHz. Marseille and Paris were the most-advanced French cities when it comes to already set up antennas, while 5G coverage was quite unevenly distributed over the country.
Despite being a controversial topic, 5G is a well-understood concept among the French population, who predominantly support its implementation. Around half of the population would be interested in taking out a 5G subscription when it is available, most notably to download and exchange voluminous files or to use telehealth-related devices. Still, several 5G towers have been targeted by attacks aiming to destroy them and thus delay the implementation of 5G. While much of the anti-5G movement has been fueled by fake news relayed on social media, a share of the population is concerned with the potential health impact of electromagnetic fields.