French telecoms regulator Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) has announced that the expert committee on copper networks, which was set up in Q2 2013, has concluded its ‘investigative procedure’ and has delivered a favourable opinion on the potential deployment of VDSL2 technology in the last mile of copper networks, which in turn marks the first step towards the introduction of fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) technology into operators’ rollout plans. FTTdp is a form of next generation network architecture where fibre is terminated very close to the customer’s premises; however, unlike a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) configuration, FTTdp reuses existing copper or coaxial cable to connect a customer’s premises to the fibre network. The working group concluded that any deployment plans must include a trial phase under actual conditions, before any large-scale rollout is performed, in order to test the technical aspects of FTTdp and to examine any of the questions that its operational implementation might raise. Further, the group concluded that FTTdp could also be a way to improve FTTH networks’ occupancy rates by providing a greater diversity of connection solutions in the customers’ premises. Arcep pointed out that following the expert committee conclusions, a series of FTTdp trial rollouts will be implemented in the coming months.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in April 2013 Orange France’s head of Optical Research & Development presented a case for FTTdp in certain areas, noting that in France the existing local access network distribution points were suitably close to the user – often no more than 50 metres and typically on poles. Subsequently, Arcep established FTTdp working group – comprising of operators, local authority associations and representatives of the relevant government departments – to assess the level of interest in rolling out a FTTdp solution.