Patrick Drahi, the majority owner of French telecoms operator Numericable-SFR, has disclosed that he wants to ‘go beyond’ SFR’s fibre-optic rollout commitment for medium-density areas, domestic newspaper Les Echos reports. The executive told the National Assembly’s Economic Affairs Committee that newly merged Numericable-SFR ‘wants to do more’ than the 20% territorial coverage originally outlined in the 2011 agreement with Orange, with the company proposing a new territorial coverage target of 50%. Drahi was cited as saying: ‘Numericable-SFR is ready to invest in [covering] 50% of medium-density areas. Why should we only have 10% of the national territory while the historical operator has 90%?’ Orange Group’s CEO Stephane Richard has defended the original agreement by replying: ‘We say that first you have to start doing what is written in the agreement. SFR has deployed nothing so far, while we are in an accelerated [deployment] phase. Orange France and the local authorities do not want to review the sharing [agreement].’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, 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. The agreement to deploy shared fibre technology to millions of households in less densely-populated areas of mainland France covers around 9.8 million homes in agglomerations where ‘both operators have redundant deployment projects’. Under the terms of the agreement, by 2020 SFR will serve 2.3 million of these households, with Orange France serving 7.5 million.