France Telecom, which brand services under the Orange banner, has answered the government’s request for detailed information on its plans to invest in ultra-high speed broadband networks by announcing plans to reach 60% of households (i.e. 15 million homes) with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) by 2020, with an interim target of ten million households by 2015. The former monopoly has set out a clear target to deploy fibre-optic networks in 3,600 French communes by 2015. These will be spread across 220 agglomerations, including all large and medium-sized towns or cities. To realise this goal the telco says it will look to cooperate with ‘other interested network operators’ by offering access solutions as set-out in Arcep’s new regulatory framework. In particular, France Telecom (FT) says it is keen to offer ‘co-investment solutions’, although for its part, it has pledged to invest EUR2 billion over the period 2010-2015 to reach this goal.
FT has already deployed FTTH fibre-based networks in around 15 of France’s biggest cities and the surrounding suburbs, although the government has asked it to accelerate the pace of rollout. French Minister of Industry Eric Besson has applauded ‘the effort’ being made by the telco in this area, but mentioned that currently only one million households are passed by FTHH. The objective would be to reach two million by the end of December 2011. Furthermore, for regions that are not explicitly mentioned in the government’s request document the operator will adopt a cooperative approach with local authorities in order to provide them with intermediary solutions (Fibre-to-the-curb [FTTC], satellite, etc.) that offer a step-change towards ultra-high speed broadband.
Commenting on the group’s fibre rollout plans, Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom-Orange said: ‘This commitment clearly illustrates the new dynamic that Orange has embarked upon since the launch of our Conquests 2015 project. To achieve this ambition, we have mobilised our staff and our expertise as a network operator with a view to consolidating our market position in France and making the most of the growth potential that this network can offer for the years to come. This will be done within a spirit of openness with regards to our environment and to other operators.’