France Telecom-Orange, Free call rural FTTH truce

In a sign that the often contentious French fiber to the home (FTTH) market may be calming, France Telecom-Orange has signed an agreement with rival Free that will allow Free to access France Telecom-Orange’s rural FTTH infrastructure.

In a sign that the often contentious French fiber to the home (FTTH) market may be calming, France Telecom-Orange has signed an agreement with rival Free that will allow Free to access France Telecom-Orange’s rural FTTH infrastructure.

France Telecom-Orange has offered the third-party FTTH wholesale access service at the behest of French telecom regulator ARCEP, which has mandated the sharing of new FTTH infrastructure to ensure service competition. The former PTT announced this past February a major FTTH rollout in rural areas in 2011 and 2012. The program aims to bring fiber to 3,600 French municipalities (communes), covering 10 million households by 2015 and 15 million households by 2020 (corresponding to 17 million homes), or nearly 60% of French households. The project will cost 2 billion Euros through 2015.

The wholesale agreement with Free does not cover the entire rollout. Free has contracted for access to fiber that will serve approximately 1,300 municipalities (communes), or 5 million homes, by 2020.

Meanwhile, France Telecom-Orange says it is negotiating similar deals with our operators.

The agreement is significant because the two carriers have often traded accusations of obstructing open access (see, for example, “FT: Free holding up FTTH mutualisation”).

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