French fibre roll-out and take-up break new records

Created March 4, 2019
News and Business

According to the latest quarterly account from French telecoms regulator l’Autorité de Régulation des Communications électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP), annual growth in the number of superfast access subscriptions in the country reached two million, for the first time ever. This, says ARCEP, was very largely thanks to the growing adoption of FTTH/B.

The report reveals that over the course of Q4 2018, the number of superfast broadband subscriptions (maximum download speed equal to or faster than 30 Mbps) increased by 615,000 to reach 9.0 million, or an additional 2 million subscriptions year on year (YoY), versus an increase of 1.5 million one year earlier. The majority of this growth was due to an increase in the number of subscriptions to fibre to the home/building (FTTH/B) plans, which rose by 485,000 compared to the previous quarter, and so accounted for close to 80% of the increase in superfast access user numbers. As of 31 December 2018, the number of end-to-end fibre access lines totalled 4.8 million, which is 1.5 million than the year before.

In total, 45% of all premises eligible to subscribe to a superfast access plan were subscribing to such a plan in Q4 2018, which marks a 6% increase YoY. The total number of broadband and superfast broadband subscriptions stood at 29.1 million at the end of Q4 2018, which marks an increase of 190,000 over the previous quarter and of 700,000 year on year (+2.5%).

Broadband roll-out takeaways from the ARCEP report include:

  • Over the past four quarters, 3,212,000 additional premises were passed for FTTH, of which 1,013,000 were in Q4 2018. This is the first ever quarterly increase of more than a million
  • As of 31 December 2018, 13.56 million premises were eligible to subscribe to an FTTH access service, or 32% more than one year earlier
  • The vast majority of FTTH rollouts in the fourth quarter of last year were in those parts of the country where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent (called “zones AMII” in French). The 630,000 additional premises passed during the quarter mark a record high for these areas
  • The pace of FTTH rollouts in areas covered by public-initiative rollouts continued to rise during the quarter, with an additional 249,000 additional premises passed. The overall rate of line sharing rose slightly to reach 29%
  • In total, at the end of Q4 2018, 20.1 million households in France were able to subscribe to a superfast Internet access service, all technologies combined, including 13.9 million households located outside of very high-density areas
  • At the end of Q4 2018, 48% of the premises in the municipalities where Orange made rollout commitments, and 36% of those where SFR has made commitments had been passed for FTTH access.

However, ARCEP warns that operators will need to step up the pace of their deployments if they are to meet their targets on time. The first deadline is a commitment to have at least 92% of the premises passed by the end of 2020, with the remaining being passed “on request”.

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This article was written
by John Williamson

John Williamson is a freelance telecommunications, IT and military communications journalist. He has also written for national and international media, and been a telecoms advisor to the World Bank.