France Accelerates Fiber Deployment… or Does It?

Fr_dp On Monday, French prime minister François was due to make a speech that would, some journalists thought, give a kick in the butt to FTTH deployment in France. The fact is that three years after the first FTTH deployment announcements, France as a whole doesn't have a lot to show for it. ARCEP recently announced 250k NGA subscribers, 200k of which are Numéricable's HFC.

Needless to say that Mr. Fillon's speech was eagerly expected… and did not fail to dissapoint. The Prime Minister reaffirmed that €2bn had been earmarked as public contributions to FTTH deployment in zones 2 and 3 (ie. low density urban and rural) and that jointly deployed projects would be favoured. But there is nothing in the way of specifics at all to understand who can tap into that money, under what conditions and how the competitive landscape will be maintained under these circumstances.

In parallel, the various decrees describing the exact sharing model for zone 1 have been published (hurray!) which suggests that the existing players will no longer be able to hide behind that particular topic to explain why they aren't progressing.

Sorry to paint a bleak picture so early on in the year, but in between private players who announce deployments when they really don't want to actually deploy and a government that announces high ambitions but no sensible implementation, I'm not feeling upbeat.

The only good news (perhaps) is that another €2.5bn will be attributed to NGA services. Of course, these are not defined and how the money is to be distributed isn't either. Say what you will about Americans, at least when they say there will be public financing they publish clear rules and do what they say...