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France: Record FTTH deployment progress

March 8, 2021

By Colin Mann

French comms regulator Arcep’s ‘scoreboard’ for the fixed broadband and superfast broadband market in France as of the end of December 2020 was marked by record progress in Fibre to the Home (FTTH) deployment, while adoption rates also ended the year on a record high.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: New record increase in the number of FTTH subscriptions in Q4 2020: passing the 10 million subscriptions milestone

  • Over the course of Q4 2020, the pace of superfast broadband subscription (maximum download speed equal to or faster than 30 Mbit/s) growth stepped up to reach an additional 1.1 million connections. The number of superfast subscriptions reached 14.7 million, or close to half of all Internet access lines in France (+10 points YoY), and 51 per cent of the premises passed for a superfast access service, which is up three points year on year (YoY).
  • All such growth results from an increase in the number of subscriptions to fibre to the home (FTTH) plans, which rose by 3.3 million over the course of 2020. Accordingly, the total number of FTTH subscriptions has passed the milestone of 10 million (10.4 million as of December 31st 2020), and the technology now represents 70 per cent of all superfast access subscriptions in France.
  • This very dynamic growth in superfast access adoption is going hand in hand with a more rapid decrease in the number of ‘classic’ broadband connections: -2.5 million YoY versus -1.7 million one year earlier. Representing close to 16 million subscriptions at year end, broadband access lines nevertheless still account for the majority.
  • The total number of broadband and superfast broadband subscriptions stood at 30.6 million at the end of 2020, which is 285,000 more than in the previous quarter and 800,000 more than the year before (+2.7 per cent YoY).

ROLLOUTS: Unparalleled progress in operators’ deployments during Q4 2020, with 1.9 million additional FTTH lines deployed

  • Over the course of Q4 2020, more than 1.9 million additional premises were passed for FTTH – which translates into a roughly 16 per cent increase year on year. More than 5.8 million lines were deployed over the course of 2020, and this despite the Covid-19 crisis – i.e. 19 per cent more than in 2019.
  • As of December 30th 2020, 24.2 million premises were eligible to subscribe to an FTTH access service, or 31 per cent more than one year earlier.
  • The majority of the growth continues to be in those parts of the country where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent (zones AMII): 1.1 million additional premises were rendered eligible during what was a record quarter in these areas, which have been the focus of an especially strong push by operators.
  • The pace of FTTH line deployments in AMII areas was close to the highest on record, with more than 650,000 additional premises becoming eligible for fibre access.
  • Rollouts are also intensifying in those areas covered by calls for expressions of local interest (zones AMEL), where there were close to 100,000 premises passed at the end of 2020.
  • The accelerated pace observed nationwide is not, however, found systematically in very high-density areas where the insufficient rate of progress of the past several quarters continues.
  • In total, at the end of Q4 2020, 28.6 million households in France were able to subscribe to a superfast Internet access service, all technologies combined, including 21.7 million households located outside of very high-density areas.

Monitoring operators’ compliance with their legally-binding FTTH rollout commitments

Arcep is responsible for monitoring operators’ compliance with the commitments they have made, and publishes a progress report on the rollouts in question on a regular basis.

At the end of 2020, in those parts of the country where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent (zones AMII) around 76 per cent of the premises in the municipalities where Orange made rollout commitments, and 91 per cent of those where SFR has made commitments have been passed for fibre.

At the same time, the first premises have been passed in virtually all of the AMEL projects (i.e. legally binding FTTH rollout commitments that certain operators have made to local authorities, as part of calls for expressions of local interest) reaching a total of close to 100,000 premises passed by year end. Details on the progress being made, commitment by commitment, are included in the scoreboard.


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