Real French Broadband Numbers

Fr_dp I don't know how interesting this is to anyone, but just in case, I thought I'd share it. ARCEP has released a paper this week with some sections blotted out. Unfortunately, they didn't secure that very thoroughly, and apparently just copy/pasting the text allowed you to see the blotted out sections. Which some tech journos promptly did. Check out this article for the full story.

Some of the blotted out sections included actual market share and gross and nett adds in Q4 for the players on the French market:

  • Orange : 8 849 000 (47%) — 118 000 (25%) — 387 000 (34%)
  • Iliad : 4 456 000 (23%) — 36 000 (8%) — 213 000 (19%)
  • SFR : 4 353 000 (23%) — 151 000 (32%) — 313 000 (28%)
  • Numericable : 821 000 (4%) — 21 000 (4%) — 50 000 (4%)
  • Bbox : 288 000 (2%) — 130 000 (27%) — 137 000 (12%)
  • Darty : 233 000 (1%) — 19 000 (4%) — 28 000 (2%)

The first number is the actual subs and market share, the second number is the net adds and market share thereof, and the third number is the gross adds and market share thereof. It suggests an number of interesting things:

  • Orange's gross adds are nowhere near their established market share which explains mostly why they are slipping. I calculate their churn rate at 3% for the quarter, which is not too bad compared to the overall market performance, but means their net adds are only third after SFR and Bbox (Bouygues Telecom).
  • Iliad has been equally inefficient at keeping its customers. Long gone are the days when they whould bost having a negligeable churn rate. The churn rate for Q4 2009 is nearly 4%, the worse on the market, worse even than the notoriously bad Numéricable.
  • Speaking of which, Numéricable's performance is not glorious either, with a churn rate at 3.5% and a stagnant market share despite massive investment in Docsis 3.0 and a near exclusivity in providing 100Mb/s service.
  • SFR is the biggest winner in this game. SFR's performance is really strong on the gross adds side, and that's the reason they succeed, because their churn performance isn't all that glorious (also worse than Numéricable at 3.7%).
  • BBox is the new kid on the block, and while their low churn rates mean very little since their offering has only been on the market for a short period of time, their gross adds are massive and it's very promising for them considering they will soon be marketing an NGA offering (over Numéricable's network).

What I find interesting looking at these numbers is that the reasons normally put forward to explain Free's poor performance (Alice customers being unhappy and leaving) doesn't really tell the whole story: Free's churn is only marginally higher than SFR's. The real reason for SFR catching up with Free in overall market share is clearly that Free's acquisition machine has stalled…