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Summary:

Here in the United States, if we manage to get our six megabit per second broadband connections working half the time at promised speeds, we feel happy, and perhaps lucky. In comparison, French are living la vida loca when it comes to broadband. And even that […]

Here in the United States, if we manage to get our six megabit per second broadband connections working half the time at promised speeds, we feel happy, and perhaps lucky. In comparison, French are living la vida loca when it comes to broadband. And even that is not enough.

French telecom incumbent, France Telecom says it is going all fiber, and will soon be looking to boost speeds of its consumer internet connections to a whopping 100 megabits per second in ten French cities. The fiber upgrade is part of a growing trend – using higher speed DSL connections to grab market share, and then slowly transition to fiber-based networks.

The plan is to spend about 270 million euros on the fiber network between 2007 and 2009. Cities like Lille, Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse would be part of this fiber to the home upgrade. France Telecom hopes to attract between 150,000-to-200,000 customers for this new service by 2008. Interestingly, only 500 people signed up for its trial rollout.

What’s the catch, you might ask? As part of building this new fiber network, France Telecom won’t have to share its fiber network with smaller, more nimbler rivals. FT has been forced to share its copper infrastructure with upstarts like Iliad and Neuf Cegetel, which have done a great job of establishing themselves as worthy options to the incumbent.

More @ Marketwatch.

Our previous coverage of French broadband miracle is here.

By Om Malik

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  1. Very interesting times here in France. We enjoy high speed broadband with interactive boxes for TV etc and a fair amount of competitive pricing. However rural France (where I live) reliability is not so great. It’s cool that fiber is on it’s way but ADSL is still not 100% in coverage and we suffer connection drop outs as well. Lets hope fiber is quicker to deploy than ADSL was (some hope) and much more reliable. (note – I am an English Expat in the Dorgone region)

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  2. The plan is to spend about 270 million euros on the fiber network between 2007 and 2009. Cities like Lille, Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse would be part of this fiber to the home upgrade. France Telecom hopes to attract between 150,000-to-200,000 customers for this new service by 2008. Interestingly, only 500 people signed up for its trial rollout.

    Well, the initial rollout only included six arrondissements of Paris and a few suburbs, all very wealthy areas. And if you read their press releases, you’ll see that they’re not targeting complete coverage of those ten cities, merely the wealthiest areas.

    So in coverage of fiber, they’re still behind Verizon in the US. The high symmetric speeds are of course very nice, and I don’t want to denigrate those. (Verizon techs claim to be trialing 100 MBit/s or faster symmetric connections in Leesburg, VA when I’ve talked to them, but it would be nice to actually see that. However, it should have members of the trial on par with 500 subscribers.)

    About one-sixth of the population of mainland France lives in the Paris metropolitan area. The xDSL coverage is indeed wonderful in Paris and its suburbs, and in some other large cities. Rural areas, as your previous commenter notes, are not quite so good.

    If you actually look at the statistics for entire countries that you’ve posted before, you’ll see that France is not a broadband nirvana compared to the USA. (Now, the Nordic countries and South Korea could be called such.) The percentage of people with broadband in each country is nearly equal. It’s unreasonable to compare just the offerings in Paris to everywhere in the US.

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  3. In comparison, French are living la vida loca when it comes to broadband. And even that is not enough.

    And yet, the OECD statistics show France pretty far down in the broadband per 100 people race, below the US. (But ahead of Germany, Italy, Ireland, etc.) Is there that much availability that French people just don’t want? Or do we just hear the glowing stories of what’s available in Paris and miss out on what’s not available in the countryside?

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  4. I have seen on UK TV programs about how far behind the UK is and how advanced the French are. The French are often cited as leading broad band development. John is right, we do hear glowing stories from Paris. My problem as I have already stated is the reliability of the connection. We have ADSL 2+ with bandwidth sharing, connections can drop and not come back for hours at a time. My exprience with Orange (then it was called Wanadoo) would not ever lead me back to them. Drop outs could last for days with no explanation. The future is bright as long as you live in a big city. Coverage is patchy and not all ISP’s can get a look in. It’s all very well pushing ahead with fiber but is ADSL going to be forgotten for us rural folk?

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  5. earle robinson Monday, December 18, 2006

    The OECD statistics a few years behind. French takeup of broadband has been spetacular this year and last. The main reason is the agressive competition from iliad-free, the 2nd largest isp, after france télécom. Ilia-free’s pricing is incredibly low (30 Euro), yet the company is making money each quarter according to published results.

    -er

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  6. earle robinson Monday, December 18, 2006

    Bear in mind that 270 million euro invested translates to about 250,000 household, hardly a large part of the population, even those in the cities.

    Iliad-free’s plan is to spend 2 billion euro during the next 5 years to provide free basic tv to everyone connected, with the hope to get a fair amount of them to pony up for internet, television and phone service, all for 30 euro per month. Since the cost of this will be a minimun of 1000 euro per household, how such an expensive will be amortized is a valid question.

    American companies like verizon, given the easier competitive environment, are laying fibre, but their prices are much higher than those in france, making amortization easier and faster.

    -er

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  7. earle robinson Monday, December 18, 2006

    While france télécom hopes not to have to allow use of its fibre network by its competitors, this isn’t necessarily slam dunk. The regulatory authorities may feel otherwise.

    Iliad-free has announce that it will sell usage of its fibre to competitors, by the way.

    -er

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