France has around 30 to 40% coverage of superfast broadband and is behind the UK, but it does have a much higher amount of Fibre to the Home with Orange FTTH available to some 3.6 million households. The incumbent operator in France has just announced a five year investment plan worth some €15bn for the five years to 2020 which will include aggressive expansion of the FTTH footprint along with expansion in Spain.
The sale of EE in the UK is with the Competition and Markets Authority at present, but if everything goes to plan the mixture of £12.5 billion of cash and shares looks set to help Orange push FTTH from 3.6 million to 12 million in 2018 and 20 million in 2020. While 20 million FTTH passed is an impressive target it needs to be pointed out that France Telecom (Orange) had planned to hit a 15 million (40% of France) target originally in 2015.
The original fibre roll-outs by BT/Openreach in the UK were meant to include around 10 to 20% of FTTH/FTTP but once the amount of work involved and subsequent costs became apparent this was scaled back dramatically resulting in under 1% coverage at present, but overall a much higher coverage of FTTC based services.
France does have cable broadband to add to the mixture but the footprint is much smaller than Virgin Media, Numericable cover around 9 million homes (1/3 of homes) in France, compared to the 12.5 million (48%) of UK homes and expansion by Virgin Media to 16 to 17 million homes has been announced.