FT’s fibre-optic investment could top EUR4.5 billion over five years

7 Jun 2007

France Télécom (FT) could invest between EUR3 billion to EUR4.5 billion (USD4.05 billion to USD6.08 billion) over the next five years in rolling out its fibre-optic network, writes Thomson Financial quoting French financial daily Les Echos citing comments made by the group’s finance director Gervais Pellissier. Previously, FT has said it would spend EUR270 million on the project in 2007/08 to sign up between 150,000 and 200,000 subscribers by end-2008. The new CAPEX is understood to be based on factors such as the government’s desire to see four million French households connected via FTTH by 2012. However, the French incumbent warned that spending could be no more than EUR2 billion if it fails to secure the necessary market share.

In a related story, the French regulator Arcep has asked the country’s telecoms operators to submit their tariff and rollout plans for ultra high speed fibre broadband networks by the end of this month, ahead of the publication of new rules for the sector, which could be published in spring 2008. ‘To give transparent information to various players, the Authority invites operators rolling out super-fast networks to give it tariffs and technical offers for access to network terminals by the end of the month,’ Arcep said in a statement. The regulator is keen to see FT leasing its fibre-optic ducts to other operators and has asked the Competition Council for its recommendations in this area. Arcep believes the former monopoly may have an unfair competitive advantage over its rivals by dint of the fact that it can upgrade existing infrastructure whereas others will be forced to begin from scratch.

Some alternative operators such as neuf Cegetel and Iliad are already in the process of deploying FTTH networks and plan to make commercial services more widespread during the course of this year.

France, Iliad (Free), neuf Cegetel, Orange Group