ANFR receives and processes applications for private mobile radio (PMR) networks on behalf of ARCEP, under the terms of an agreement between the two agencies. On 30 November 2016, there were 25,475 PMR networks under ANFR management. In 2015, ANFR processed 5,331 frequency applications for low-speed PMR networks (2,546 for permanent networks and 2,785 for temporary networks), to serve the needs of a wide variety of sectors of activity.
These frequency applications come from several different categories of user, to meet ongoing or more occasional needs:
- Business users, from self-employed professionals to major groups, in sectors ranging from transport (road haulage companies, bus companies, taxi firms, airport services, motorway concession operators or ambulance companies), security, building and public works, industry and energy;
- Cultural, sports or leisure groups;
- State services, including hospitals, local authorities or public establishments;
- Companies, media or organisations using frequencies for very short periods to cover one-off events (Roland-Garros tennis tournament, Le Mans 24-hour race, exhibitions or news events).
PMR relies on narrow-band analog and digital technologies (from 6.25 kHz to 25 KHz) in frequency bands below 470 MHz. 70% of networks are currently authorised in the 400 MHz band. The shift from analog to digital seem to be gaining ground as new needs are identified or when obsolete equipment is due for replacement. At present, 12% of the installed base uses digital technology (of which 10% in the 6.25 KHz, 58% in the 12.5 KHz and 32% in the 25 KHz bands).
Changes to the LTE standard now make it possible to provide standard PMR features (group call or direct call between terminals) on high-speed systems. The 400 MHz band is preferred to the 170 MHz or 80 MHz bands, since it means antennas and terminals can be kept to a reasonable size. A number of experiments have been carried out in the 400 MHz band (Airbus, Nokia), the 700 MHz band (Hub One) and in the 2.6 GHz band (members of AGURRE, the organisation of professional PMR radio network users).
While broadband constitutes a solution for certain major users, most PMR users or professionals seem willing to settle for low-speed solutions on a long-term basis, given their specific requirements. ARCEP is planning public consultation on the subject. This situation means, therefore, that frequency spectrum must be set aside to meet the ongoing needs of these users, who see no immediate need for a change of system.