France is often touted as been a long way ahead of the UK in terms of broadband, and with the continued rollout of the Free service which offers 100Mbps downloads for €29.99, this would seem to be true. Comparing the number of people buying a broadband service, the story is a bit different as the UK has 15 million broadband connections versus the 14.25 million of France.
TelecomPaper has the raw numbers, which lists France as having 13.55 million ADSL subscribers with over half of these on fully unbundled lines. The UK has around 11.5 million ADSL/ADSL2+ lines with the remaining 3.5 million connecting via a cable broadband network.
In the areas of France where Free is available, they are heavily marketing with a new offer that should see people getting 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload connection speeds, unlimited calls to fixed lines in 49 countries, 100 TV channels and HD channels to two televisions for just €29.99 a month. The closest the UK gets would be a bundle of a 20Mbps connection from Virgin Media with their cable TV and phoneline.
So why are connections and TV so much cheaper in France? Most likely because the TV via a cable/fibre connection market is relatively new and there is a big rush to corner the market. The UK however has a relatively stable, well established, cable/satellite market. One other factor helping the French market was that unbundled connections started to occur in large volumes a year or two before consumer attractive deals appeared in the UK. In the UK it is easy to blame BT Group for perhaps stalling the take-up of unbundled connections, but conversely for a number of years no provider grabbed the bull by the horns and offered something compellingly different to other products available.