From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris
Numericable, now the sole cable operator in France, made a series of announcements at its “back to work” press conference after the summer, to mark the launch of its optical fibre service.
Numericable CEO Philippe Besnier said that cable is now better placed than ADSL operators in terms of both performance and price. Its basic broadband service is now 30 Mb/s independent of distance, whereas “ADSL can only achieve 20 Mb/s for subscribers close to the exchange”. The TV offering is around 220 channels, which can be increased with almost no limit, organized in various packages. Four HDTV channels are currently available and this is set to grow quickly, said Besnier.
The third component is telephony with unlimited calls to normal landline numbers throughout France. “The packages are aggressively priced and have better performance than those of the ADSL operators”.
Numericable is investing E250m a year in upgrading its network to optical fibre, which currently reaches 1.1 million homes, to reach 2 million by the end of this year, 5 million by the end of 2008 and 7.5 million in 2009. One significant exception is the Sipperec network, the newest network built by Noos in the North-East suburbs of Paris, whose upgrade would be “too problematic”.
Other forthcoming extras from Numericable include two new decoders, one of which is a HD PVR and a VOD service based on a catalogue of 1,000 titles at its start at the end of September.
Collective dwellings are not left out. Their residents will be offered a service for E4 a month, consisting of a basic package of TV channels, telephone (but calls must be paid extra) and 512 kb/s of Internet. The decoder is compatible with upgrading to better packages. Quad play, with the addition of mobile telephony, is set for launch in the first quarter of 2008, following an agreement with Bouygues Telecom.