France Telecom unveils national broadband Internet programme

13 June 2003 Paris Lightwave Europe--France Telecom has announced it is to commence a series of wide-ranging initiatives will make broadband Internet available to everyone in France.

13 June 2003 Paris--France Telecom has announced it is to commence a series of wide-ranging initiatives will make broadband Internet available to everyone in France.

The company will equip local exchanges to provide ADSL access as rapidly as possible when service is requested by at least 100 customers in a given local area. It is pledging to equip all central offices of over 1,000 lines (which serve areas with about 2,000 inhabitants) with ADSL access equipment by 2005.

Satellite broadband Internet solutions will be made available as of September 2003 for residential customers, businesses and municipalities in remote areas. FT will also launch trials of alternative broadband technologies from summer 2003 to meet customer demand throughout the country. And FT's regional offices will pursue these initiatives in close liaison with local and regional authorities to assess customer demand and deliver responses adapted to broadband Internet needs.

The company estimates that the ADSL customer base will exceed 3 million by year-end 2003 and that ADSL coverage will reach 90 percent of the population by 2005

Chairman and CEO Thierry Breton announced a series of initiatives designed to make broadband Internet available to all users in France who want the service.

"Broadband is a compelling challenge for France Telecom, both as a key to enhancing the competitiveness of our business customers, and also as a means of facilitating access to knowledge and information for everyone.

"France is currently number two in Europe in the number of broadband connections. We need to go further and accelerate initiatives. This is why I have asked everyone throughout the France Telecom group to mobilize to meet the needs of our customers, whether residential or business, as well as public authorities in regions and municipalities of all sizes.

"Broadband figures at the centre of FT's future - this is our new frontier. Making high-speed Internet access available nationwide is a compelling challenge, and France Telecom has a history of guiding successful transformations, such as the introduction of automatic telephone switches in the 1970s, or the Minitel revolution in the 1980s. Our objective is very clear: make broadband Internet available to everyone."

All local telephone exchanges with over 1,000 lines will be equipped with DSL modems (DSLAMs) by the end of 2005. This network extension corresponds to France Telecom's initial coverage plans.

The main deployment initiatives are:
- The number of ADSL units (DSLAMs) installed in local telephone exchanges will be multiplied by a factor of more than 2.5 (8,000 DSLAMs in 2005, compared with 3,000 today).
- An additional 7,500 km of fiberoptic links will be installed.
To carry out this program France Telecom will invest 600 million euros over three years to deploy ADSL technology on the French telephone network.

The program will be adapted to meet demand from all customers who want broadband Internet service and who are connected to central offices with at least 1,000 lines. Whenever at least 100 customers in the same local service area request the service, France Telecom will make ADSL service available as rapidly as possible.

Potential user demand will be evaluated in liaison with municipal authorities, and followed by pre-reservation of connections by ISPs. When the number of confirmed requests reaches the threshold, France Telecom will make a firm commitment to municipalities, users and ISPs to deploy ADSL service within a timeframe determined after a technical assessment by France Telecom regional offices.

FT also plans to have discussions with other operators and ISPs to determine the details of nationwide deployment for this program. The timetable and terms of network buildout will be finalised in direct cooperation with local and regional authorities.

At the end of 2002, 1.4 million people in France had broadband Internet connections. This figure will exceed 3 million by the end of 2003, as the customer base will have more than doubled in one year. ADSL technology was available to 74 percent of the population at the beginning of 2003, and France Telecom estimates that coverage will reach 90 percent of the country's population by 2005.

Satellite-based broadband Internet
In September 2003 France Telecom will begin marketing three bi-directional satellite broadband Internet solutions designed for consumers and businesses in areas with partial or no ADSL service coverage:

- "Pack Surf Satellite" is a customized solution that lets users select their ISP while benefiting from superior quality broadband service. Four data rates will be proposed, offering from 128kbit/s to 2048kbit/s for downstream traffic (i.e. from the network to the user premises) and from 64kbit/s to 512kbit/s for upstream traffic.

- Oléane SAT covers both Internet access solutions and Intranets. Here too, customers have a choice of data rates, from 128 or 512 kbps to 2048 kbps downstream, and from 64 or 128 kbps to 512 kbps upstream.

- Wanadoo Pro Sat, which will provide the same services as Wanadoo Pro ADSL offers, but without geographic restrictions. This service will provide data rates of 128kbit/s downstream and 64kbit/s upstream.

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