French alternative operator neuf Cegetel, which is backed by Vivendi through SFR and the Louis Dreyfus Group, says it plans to offer broadband internet access in areas previously only served by France Télécom (FT), allowing even more French consumers to cut their ties to the former monopoly. In recent years FT’s revenues from traditional core fixed line services have been hit hard by competitors taking advantage of local loop unbundling (LLU) to undercut the high speed packages offered by its internet unit Orange (formerly Wanadoo). According to the latest data published by telecoms regulator Arcep, as at 31 March 2006 FT had delivered 1,103 unbundled sites to alternative operators in mainland France and a further 52 subscriber nodes in overseas departments. With 48 sites unbundled in the first quarter of 2006, national unbundling coverage has reached around 54% of the population.
To date the former monopoly has retained its stranglehold in those areas unaffected by LLU, and customers have had little option but to pay FT’s monthly line rental of EUR15. neuf Cegetel plans to offer a broadband plus line rental package for EUR14.90 per month, plus EUR5 a month for customers in unbundled zones. In April this year Arcep ordered FT to sell wholesale ADSL services to competitors in unbundled areas.