France to spend €20 billion on fibre broadband
French President Francois Hollande has announced nearly €20 billion (£17 billion) will be spent in France to build high-speed broadband networks in a bid to help spur economic growth. This follows a similar plan proposed by the last President, Nicolas Sarokzy, which planned €4.5 billion of funding, but failed to get off the ground due to a reluctance to invest outside the lucrative big cities. The new proposal will allow operators to share rollout costs in less profitable areas.
The funding announced includes a three way split between network operators, state and local-government, and a mix of local government and network operators. By 2017, 50% of the country will be covered.
The French plans are looking to the future with this likely to be a longer term proposal than we are seeing in the UK. It's not clear how much of the rollout will be full fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) as opposed fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), but when compared to the investment fund of £830m (excluding operators input) here in the UK through BDUK, which is pushing out mainly FTTC, it is likely France will see a large proportion of full FTTH. With this in mind, France will likely exceed the UK's plans for the 'best broadband' by 2015 in Europe shortly after this date. At that point in time, we'll be left without any long term plans going forward.