FT to fall short of 2008 FTTH target

4 Nov 2008

Telecoms behemoth France Telecom (FT) is likely to miss its own target of connecting a million French households to its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service by end-2008 and is blaming a number of recent regulatory problems for the shortfall, La Tribune reports citing and interview with FT chief executive Didier Lombard. Lombard says he expected the government to ‘clarify the regulatory framework’ as the operator needs ‘to commit large sums in this deployment’. The CEO’s comments come in the wake of a statement by the State Secretariat for Digital Economy that an agreement on the deployment of a fibre network was ‘on track’ and likely to be finalised ‘in a fortnight’.

FT’s recently published third-quarter financial results show the operator has signed up just 17,000 FTTH users, up from 14,300 in 2Q08 and 10,100 in the first quarter. Despite the disappointing performance, Mr Lombard is confident that the telco’s longer-term goal of connecting four million homes to the fibre-optic network by 2012 is feasible, ‘if Orange, Vivendi, the parent company of SFR, or others, start to invest’.

In a separate but related story, the government of France has said there are no plans to sell any of its shares in France Telecom, amid rumours it was looking to offload all or part of its 26.79% holding. However, Bruno Bezard, the head of the Agence des Participations de l’Etat, the body responsible for managing the state’s shareholdings, said ‘No operation is envisaged for France Telecom today.’ The press rumours sparked a 4.1% decline in FT’s shares in morning trading.

France, Orange Group