ARCEP: FTTH deployments progress, but barriers remain

9 APRIL 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- ARCEP, the French telecomms regulatory authority, has issued a quarterly report on the state of the "very high speed" services market in France.

9 APRIL 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- ARCEP, the French telecomms regulatory authority, has issued a quarterly report on the state of the "very high speed" services market in France. The report addresses the state of the French broadband market as of the end of 2008. While several operators have begun installing FTTH connections, ARCEP reports that the sharing of infrastructure -- one of the keys to competition-based service offerings -- remains limited.

ARCEP says that the deployment of optical links in the horizontal (located on public land) has progressed over the past two years to include approximately 40 cities and other urban areas. France Telecom leads the way with installation in 40 municipalities, including 12 cities, as part of the "pre-deployment" phase of its FTTH roll out. Cable-TV carrier Numericable has begun replacing some of its coax links with fibre in about 30 cities or urban areas, while alternative carriers SFR and Free have focused their efforts in areas where they could find conduit other than France Telecom's.

In all, ARCEP estimates between 3 million and 4.5 million French homes are within range of an optical network. ARCEP also estimates that 20,500 building have been cable with fibre and connected to at least one operator's optical network. These buildings comprise 550,000 living areas.

However, infrastructure sharing remains limited. ARCEP noted that France Telecom issued an initial reference for sharing its infrastructure last September 15. So far, shared infrastructure accounts for 300 km of optical cable, mostly within 15 municipalities around Paris region and elsewhere.

About 2,000 homes have access to these shared networks. Only 100 buildings cabled with fibre were connected by two operators, ARCEP reported; of these, only 25 subscribers had signed up with a service provider who had access to a third-party operator's network.

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