France Telecom-Orange has published its third party-operator access offer for its FTTH fibre-optic network outside ‘very dense’ populated areas, and has signed an agreement with Free (Iliad Group) concerning fibre deployment in these areas that is due to begin in 2011 and 2012. The offer falls within France Telecom’s ongoing high speed broadband roll out programme announced on 3 February 2011, which followed the Group’s response to the French government’s request for detailed information on its plans to invest in very high speed broadband networks. The programme, on which France Telecom-Orange will spend EUR2 billion by 2015, aims to bring fibre-optic networks to 3,600 French municipalities (communes), covering ten million households by 2015 and 15 million households by 2020 (corresponding to 17 million homes), totalling nearly 60% of French households. Outside of the areas defined as ‘very dense’ by the French telecoms regulator ARCEP, the programme will cover 3,440 municipalities totalling eleven million homes by 2020 and will include all ‘medium-sized’ towns in France.
The regulatory framework for FTTH roll-out outside very dense areas was established at the start of the year. This has enabled France Telecom-Orange to put together its wholesale offer, which was published on 19 July 2011. This offer, which was presented to ARCEP before publication, has been submitted to the principal FTTH operators. In line with the principles outlined by ARCEP, the offer enables the mutualisation of networks outside very dense areas thereby giving end-users the freedom to choose the service provider they desire. The offer is open to all operators. The first to sign up is Free, which has opted in for the period 2011 and 2012 under which close to sixty agglomerations, including a total of some 1,300 municipalities (communes) or five million homes, will be covered by 2020. The deployment of these networks will take place in close cooperation with the relevant local authorities.