The UFC has come up against the operators, accusing them of deliberately withholding information around the 5G deployment. According to her, the maps provided on their respective sites are confusing, while the lack of data on the frequencies used is turned to their advantage. The association put Bouygues Telecom, Free and SFR on notice.
That’s it, the network of the future has officially arrived in France. Since Free joined the dance, all operators now offer 5G packages. The opportunity for the UFC-Que Choisir to analyze the communication of the latter and denounce their practices, which it considers deliberately confused. “Behind the generic term 5G hides very contrasting realities in relation to the different frequencies used. “, she explains. “Indeed, if the new 3.5 GHz mobile frequency is able to offer speeds very significantly higher than those of 4G, it is not the same for the other frequencies used or in the process of being used, namely the frequencies 700 MHz and 2100 MHz“.
The association is even going more less by declaring that the speeds offered by the operators “Do not justify not […] the purchase of often more expensive 5G subscriptions, nor the dedicated purchase of 5G compatible smartphones “. Faced with this observation, the UFC-Que Choisir deplores the decision of ARCEP to publish only simple recommendations, instead of putting in place measures legally obliging operators to offer more transparent communication. After studying the coverage maps disseminated by them, the organization believes that its fears have been justified and points the finger at “Specious marketing”.
UFC-Que Choisir denounces operator confusion
SFR is the first to be targeted. After announcing the list of the 120 cities in France covered by in December 2020, the operator posted a map to say the least imprecise. “Given the terms used, consumers uninformed about the intricacies of 5G will in no way know […] which differentiates the areas covered on the 3.5 GHz or 2100 MHz band “, says UFC-Que Choisir. It also specifies that the latter frequency allows 5 times less important than the first. As a reminder, these flows are therefore substantially close to those of 4G.
The situation is hardly better for Bouygues Telecom. On his map, the distinction made between 3.5 GHz frequencies and lower frequencies is far from clear, judge UFC-Que Choisir. “Bouygues Telecom adopts a practice aimed at suggesting that there is an equivalence of quality between the two frequencies, by assigning them the same qualifier of” High bands ““. In addition, the association believes that the operator does not disclose no precise information to consumers allowing them to understand that the difference in flow is likely to be minimal.
Only the Orange card seems to respect information prerogatives. Indeed, the operator has promised speeds 3 to 4 times faster than 4G, which it obtains by using only 3.5 GHz frequencies, it suffices to show the areas covered without specifying the granted speeds. However, the UFC-Que Choisir recalls that these devices only allow a maximum flow of 1.6Gbit / s, against the announced 2.1 Gbit / s. Whether it is a lack of clarity or misleading advertising, it is the operator’s responsibility to review their communication.
As for Free, UFC-Que Choisir claims that the integration of 5G packages without price increase is explained by its decision to use 7 frequencies00 MHz, “Which offers the lowest 5G speeds and equivalent to those hitherto provided in 4G”. Although 96% of branches of the operator are set at this frequency, it does not disclose any information on this subject and even boasts of the speed of its network, which is much less optimal than that of its competitors.
Bouygues Telecom, Free and SFR put on formal notice
After its edifying investigation, the association decided to launch a judiciary process against three of the operators. It thus indicates to put in default ” Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile and SFR to modify the presentation of their coverage maps, to visibly show the differences in the quality of 5G depending on the frequency used ”. As for Orange, she asks him ” to provide all the technical details supporting its communication on the theoretical maximum throughput in areas where the operator operates only the 3.5 GHz frequency “.
Finally, the UFC-Que Choisir has approached ARCEP and Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications, so that the latter “Are working without delay on the development of regulations governing operator communication on 5G to guarantee consumers reliable, understandable and relevant information”. So hopefully his press release has helped some see a little more clearly about the real promises of 5G.
Source: UFC-Que Choisir