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France: Fibre drives record telecoms investment

June 17, 2020

France’s telecoms regulator Arcep’s annual status report on the French telecoms market shows that in 2019, operators in France invested €500 million more than in 2018, for an overall total (excluding spending on frequencies) of €10.4 billion. Investments in nominal terms have increased by close to 50 per cent in five years. For the third year in a row, the increase in investment levels is chiefly as a result of a rise in operators’ spending on fibre deployments.

At the end of 2019, 18.3 million premises were eligible to subscribe to a fibre access plan, which represents 4.8 million additional access lines deployed in a single year. Alongside this record growth is the steadily increasing pace of fibre adoption; 7.1 million households had adopted fibre technology by the end of 2019 (+2.3 million YoY).

This increase in spending has gone hand in hand with a decrease in operators’ revenue (-1 per cent in 2019) and virtually unchanged prices for residential fixed and mobile services in Metropolitan France over the course of 2019. After a sometimes very significant drop in prices in 2018, operators scaled back their promotional offers last year.

In terms of traffic, the trend on fixed and mobile networks is in keeping with the previous years. This includes an ongoing surge in mobile network traffic, for voice calls (+4 per cent) but especially for data services (+44 per cent YoY). 4G network users are rising at an increasingly fast pace; up 7.1 million versus 6.1 million in 2018, reaching 54.8 million at the end of 2019. These customers consumed an average 8.6 Gb of data a month, which is 2 Gb more than the year before.

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