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France: Superfast broadband subs up 35%

June 3, 2016

French telecoms regulator Autorité de régulation des communications éléctroniques et des postes (Arcep) has published its scoreboard for the fixed broadband and superfast broadband market (services, rollouts and subscriptions) in France in the first quarter of 2016. It is also adding the first indicators pertaining to public initiative networks, which will be expanded in future scoreboards.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: at the end of March 2016, there were 4.5 million superfast broadband subscriptions in use (+35 per cent in a year) of which 1.6 million to fully fibre access lines (FttH), which is 53 per cent higher than the year before.

  • In Q1 2016 the number of superfast broadband subscriptions (maximum download speed equal to or faster than 30 Mbit/s) increased by 265,000 to reach 4.5 million, or an additional 1.2 million subscriptions year on year (YoY). The majority of this growth is due to an increase in the number of subscriptions to fibre to the home/building (FttH/B) plans, which rose by 160,000 compared to Q4 2015. The number of subscriptions to plans with a headline speed of between 30 and 100 Mbit/s increased by 130,000 over the previous quarter to reach 1.7 million (+29 per cent YoY). These include VDSL2 plans, all of which deliver speeds equal to or above 30 Mbit/s, and fibre access lines with coaxial cable in the last mile.
  • The number of broadband subscriptions – i.e. to a connection with a maximum advertised download speed of less than 30 Mbit/s – stood at 22.6 million at the end of the quarter, which is down by 55,000 compared to Q4 2015 and by 255,000 over the year before, due a decrease in DSL broadband subscriptions. These customers account for 83 per cent of all broadband and superfast broadband subscriptions.
  • In total, the number of fixed broadband and superfast broadband subscriptions in France stood at 27.1 million at the end of Q1 2016, which marks an increase of 210,000 over the previous quarter and of 900,000 year on year (+3.4 per cent).

ROLLOUTS: at the end of March 2016, 14.8 million households (+9 per cent YoY) were eligible to subscribe to a superfast broadband service, including 6 million via FttH (+37 per cent YoY).

  • Operators in France have made substantial investments over the past several years, which have enabled them to deliver a wide range of access products over a growing portion of the country. As a result, by the end of Q1 2016, alternative operators had unbundled 9,976 exchanges on the copper local loop, or 1,000 more than the year before, and now serve 92.2 per cent of all existing lines (+0.8 points in a year). Of this total number of lines eligible for LLU, 12.2 million have been actually unbundled, which is 180,000 fewer than at the end of Q1 2015. This means that alternative operators have bought 13.6 million wholesale connections from Orange, via LLU and bitstream.
  • Upgrades to the country’s coaxial cable networks are also ongoing. As a result, by the end of Q1 2016, around 8.9 million homes had been equipped for FttLA and HFC access – i.e. optical fibre to the last amplifier and coaxial cable in the last metres, delivering speeds equal to or above 30 Mbit/s. Seven point three million of these connections are capable of supplying a throughput of 100 Mbit/s or more, which is up by 18 per cent compared to Q1 2015. Within this base of potential superfast broadband cable customers, 3.8 million of the homes passed are located outside of very high-density areas.
  • Operators are stepping up the pace of their fibre to the home (FttH) rollouts. As of 31 March 2016, 6 million homes were eligible to subscribe to an FttH plan, or 37 per cent more than the year before. FttH rollouts made steady progress during the quarter, with coverage being delivered to an additional 370,000 households, which translates into a 7 per cent increase over Q4 2015. This comes on the heels of record increase the previous quarter of 583,000 additional homes passed, and 12 per cent growth. Of these 6 million homes, 2.4 million are located outside very high-density areas, and 850,000 are being served by public-initiative networks (PIN). Quarterly growth in PIN coverage stands at a very healthy 8 per cent. FttH rollouts in sparsely populated areas (+255,000 access lines) were more substantial than in very high density areas (+149,000). Moreover, around 3.6 million households – or around 60 per cent of all those eligible to subscribe to an FttH plan – now have a choice between at least two superfast fibre access providers (+32 per cent on the year) thanks to network sharing schemes introduced by national regulation.
  • In response to requests from several stakeholders, and to ensure better monitoring of public-initiative network (PIN) rollouts and access product sales, Arcep is introducing a dedicated scoreboard this quarter. A steadily increasing number of indicators will be added to this new PIN scoreboard as they become available. This quarter, for the first time, Arcep is including network sharing rates which express the percentage of eligible PIN access lines on which at least two ISPs are able to sell a superfast plan thanks to passive infrastructure sharing schemes. On the 611,000 eligible FttH lines deployed as part of public-initiative networks in the most sparsely populated parts of France, the network sharing rate stands at 30 per cent of access lines, for an average rate of sharing of 60 per cent on all networks across the entire country.
  • Arcep puts the number of lines capable of supplying superfast access (equal to or above 30 Mbit/s) via VDSL at 5.4 million, or around 150,000 more lines than in the previous quarter. At the end of March 2016, around 12,350 exchanges had been made VDSL2-capable by at least one operator, which represents coverage of around 95.5 per cent of all the lines in France.
  • In total, at the end of the first quarter of 2016, 14.8 million households in France were able to subscribe to a superfast Internet access service, including 9.3 million households (63 per cent) located outside of very high-density areas.


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