Fibre for Paris
The UK is dabbling with ADSL2+ currently, which has been available for some time in France, and has been embraced by Free Telecom in its headline €29.99 basic triple play package. Iliad who run Free Telecom are set to take things to the next level, with the news that they are to spend €1 billion upgrading their network to Fibre to the Home levels in Paris, concentrating on the areas where it has the most triple-play customers now.
This not insignificant spend is to be spread over six years, and should see a commercial service launched in the first quarter of 2007. Ovum has more detail on this news. Free Telecom has around 1.91 million customers (30th June 2006), and just as with unbundling in the UK, Iliad has generally targeted the denser populated areas, where a return on investment appears more likely.
France has been ahead of the UK in terms of unbundling by an estimated 12 months, and if current growth of unbundled lines continues at the pace it is now in the UK, it is likely that in 12 months time we may see similar numbers of subscribers on an unbundled service. If the same sort of gap technology wise is maintained, and it looks like it will, then we can expect to start to hear more about FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) or FTTH in 2008. Which parts of the UK will benefit first will greatly depend on who is driving the roll-out, and their ultimate goal, i.e. is it to be a complete re-vamp of the copper local loop in the UK, or just a hard nosed commercially driven scheme with limited availability.