Numericable-SFR deal could disrupt fibre rollouts

7 Nov 2014

Numericable’s takeover of SFR, France’s second-largest cellco, could affect the fibre-optic deployment contracts SFR inked with Orange France in 2011, Les Echos reports, with SFR’s new owner having no interest in duplicating its existing cable infrastructure with fibre. Under the country’s ‘France Tres Haut Debit’ plan, which aims to cover 100% of the territory with high speed broadband (downlink speeds of 30Mbps or more) by 2022, a portion of the required investment must be provided by telecoms operators; to this end, in 2011 Orange and SFR agreed to share the work and deploy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology in nearly 3,000 municipalities (around ten million households) in order to avoid duplication. However, SFR’s new owner Numericable has no incentive to deploy fibre-optics in areas where it has already laid cable infrastructure. Instead of duplicating its DOCSIS 3.0 infrastructure with fibre deployments, Patrick Drahi, CEO of Numericable’s parent Altice Group, has reportedly proposed that the new merged entity should cover remote areas, which are not currently scheduled for fibre deployments. Further, Numericable-SFR ‘would not to oppose the deployment of fibre by Orange in areas previously reserved for SFR’. It is understood that negotiations between Orange and SFR-Numericable for the redistribution of FTTH deployment territories will restart after 27 November 2014, when the final regulatory decision on the merger will be announced.

France, Altice France (SFR), Orange France, SFR