France’s largest network provider in terms of subscribers Orange has announced plans to deploy 5,000 VDSL2 telephone exchanges and thus offer high speed broadband to around 60% of the French population by the end of autumn of 2013, Les Echos reports. VDSL2 technology is applicable to copper lines and allows a significant increase in the downlink speed in comparison with ADSL. However, due to equipment’s inherent physical limitations, 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+. The announcement, however, was not welcomed by everyone, with rival telco SFR’s general secretary Olivier Henrard commenting on the matter: ‘VDSL2 deployments will necessarily have an impact on the deployment of optical fibre, because they create confusion about commercial messages in the minds of both potential subscribers and investors.’
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Arcep authorised VDSL2 technology as suitable for commercial distribution in April 2013. On 26 April 2013, Orange launched a pilot VDSL2 network at the Dordogne and the Gironde administrative departments, providing the rest of the operators with an opportunity to assess the technology. The regulator pledged to closely monitor the introduction of VDSL2 and to review its performance one year after its nationwide launch.