Neuf launches its fiber service in Pau

At the end of last year it seemed that French fixed line operator Neuf was late on its fiber strategy. Free shot first in early fall 2006 when they announced a billion euro investment plan to deploy point to point fiber. Orange was already running trials and has the leverage and firepower of an incumbent.

Neuf bridged the gap quite quickly though. They purchased Pau-based Mediafibre who'd been commercialising fiber services over the Pau Broadband Country network, then they went on and purchased Erenis, the biggest independant fiber operator in Paris. This week they announced the launch of their own offer in Pau. It's a soft launch, with a wider commercial launched announced in May. The attached PDF is their commercial flyer (sorry for the scan quality...)

It's all in French, of course, and I'm assuming that few of you read French, so here's the lowdown: the offer is a triple play offer including

  • up to 50Mb/s bandwidth, download and upload
  • HD TV (about 65 free channels and 30-40 additional Pay TV channels) although my understanding is that this is quite theoretical so far since most of these channels don't broadcast HD
  • IP telephony - unlimited calls to national fixed lines and fixed lines in roughly 50 countries in Europe and the Americas

All in all, not much new. This is in effect a DSL triple-play offer with extra d/l and symetric u/l. With the exception of the bundled firewall and anti-spam, it's the same as Neuf's standard offer, down to the NeufBox - non fiber-specific, as far as I can make it, which may explain the up to 50Mb/s indication. The pricetag is slightly higher than the equivalent DSL offer which is 29,90 EUR, but Neuf have already announced that this was specific to their Pau offer. The Pau Broadband Country network was deployed by the local government and is leased to operators, which explains why Neuf's cost structure in Pau would be less favourable.

It's not really surprising that the services provided would be similar, if not identical to those available on DSL. Neuf (as its competitors) have had very little time to actually think about the fabled killer ap of fiber, if it exists. We'll have to wait some time yet to see a significant difference in services provided over fiber.

What I did find interesting in the documentation is the way that Neuf expresses the benefit of added bandwidth. It's on page two. The little diagrams describe the upload time for 100 photos with DSL (1 hr) and with fiber (1 mn), and the dowload time for a movie with DSL (1 hr) and with fiber (1 mn). Interesting how that movie is downloaded to a PC. Ties in nicely with my earlier reflexions on P2P. It seems I may have been hasty in anticipating a shift in ISP positions!