France Telecom set to double investment in fibre networks
France Telecom has announced plans to double its investment in fibre networks this year to between €300 and €350 million. Looking further ahead, the company has also stated that it will spend €2 billion on a national fibre network by 2015 and has signed agreements with its three competitors to work together on fibre roll-outs in rural areas and mid-sized cities.
Bob Elliott, of UK Telecom, advises: “France Telecom, being the biggest player in France and already the owner of the national copper network, will take the lead in providing fibre. However, the fact is that it is unlikely in the extreme that the coverage will be universal. The cost of bringing the service to rural communities will be prohibitive and the difference between urban and rural access is likely to be reinforced. The only prospect of this changing is if there is regional or departmental support by way of subsidies. This is the case in some areas for satellite broadband. Clearly the departments come under pressure to do something as areas without broadband suffer in terms of property values and the willingness of many new businesses to set up in these areas.
“While this is a good idea on paper, competition will be limited to the three main providers. The other consideration will be that not everyone in an area will want to go over to fibre so France Telecom will have to maintain both the copper and fibre networks!”