From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris
According to the latest figures from the ARCEP, the French telecoms regulator, the number of Internet subscribers in France reached 19.4 million at the end of Q2 2009, with 18.7 million via broadband â€“ an increase of 12 per cent in one year. The rate of growth has nevertheless slowed down, from an annual 3 million in 2006 to an annual 2.5 million in 2008.
The number of ADSL subscribers had reached 17.6 million, an increase of 1.7 million over the previous year. 44 per cent of these subscribers, i.e. 7.7 million, can receive TV via ADSL, an increase of 2.5 million over the previous year (+48.5 per cent). Income from Internet was E 1.5 billion, 90 per cent of which was from broadband. The annual growth rate of broadband access remains high (10.9 per cent) in spite of a slight slowdown since the end of 2008. ARPU has been stable over the last two years at E23.9 before tax.
Meanwhile, the Minister for rural and town planning, Michel Mercier, announced that he was asking the government to provide a minimum of E1 billion in the form of a loan for the development of fixed and mobile broadband. Mercier pointed out that this is the only loan he has requested from the Commission de reflexion sur le grand emprunt. The Commission is to report to the government in mid November. The funds would be used for local projects that would not otherwise be economically appealing for the telcos, such as improving broadband and mobile access to rural areas.