French regulator ARCEP has announced that an independent Committee of Experts, appointed by the regulator with Decision 2012-1294 (October 2012) to evaluate the introduction of next generation access (NGA) technologies on the copper local loop network of Orange France, has authorised VDSL2 technology as suitable for commercial distribution without disrupting existing DSL networks/services. The Committee added that the use of VDSL2 is applicable to the provision of full/shared access to the copper pair for wholesale broadband/voice line services.
VDSL2 is applicable to copper lines and allows significant increase in the downlink speed in comparison with ADSL. However, due to equipment’s inherent physical limitations, the performance gain of VDSL2 is limited to copper lines whose length does not exceed 1km. These units represent about 16% (around five million) of the total copper lines on Orange France’s network, and are concentrated in areas that do not benefit from fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts. For lines of greater length, the downlink of VDSL2 is equivalent to the speed provided by ADSL2+.
On 26 April 2013 a pilot VDSL2 network was launched at the Dordogne and the Gironde administrative departments, providing the rest of the operators with an opportunity to assess the technology. Upon publication of Orange France’s VDSL2 wholesale price proposal, operators will have three months to prepare for the launch of VDSL2 in the rest of the country, with estimated national commercial rollout of the technology set for autumn 2013. ARCEP will closely monitor the introduction of VDSL2 and will review one year after its nationwide launch.
The Committee of Experts examining copper access technologies consists of representatives from France Telecom-Orange itself, the incumbent’s rivals who offer unbundled services over Orange’s network, plus major NGA equipment manufacturers, while representatives of local authorities also attend the monthly committee meetings. A similar committee was appointed by ARCEP to study fibre-based NGA solutions.