The annual status report on the French telecoms market from communications regulator ARCEP (l’Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques), show that in 2020, operators’ investments (excluding spending on 5G spectrum) reached €11.5 billion, which marks an 8.1 per cent increase YoY, compared to the average 4.5 per cent increase over the two previous years. When including spending on 5G spectrum, operators’ investments in 2020 totalled €14.3 billion.
This rise in spending can be attributed chiefly to operators’ increased investment in FTTH network deployment, but also to the start of 5G network rollouts
2020 was a banner year for FTTH deployment, with an additional 5.8 million premises passed for fibre, bringing the total number of premises eligible for FTTH services in France to 24.2 million at the end of 2020.
Alongside this record increase in deployment was an unparalleled rise in the number of subscriptions to superfast access plans: +3.3 million YoY (compared to +2.4 million in 2019). This rise is due entirely to the growing number of FTTH subscriptions, which stood at more than 10 million at the end of 2020.
Operators’ revenue saw its smallest decrease in 10 years (-0.4 per cent YoY in 2020), primarily resulting from a decrease in mobile handset sales during the first lockdown. Aside from device sales, revenue from electronic communications services alone was up 0.3 per cent in 2020, after two years of roughly 1 per cent losses. This slight uptick went hand in hand with a contained increase in fixed(+1.9 per cent YoY) and mobile (-1.7 per cent YoY) service prices.
Consumers radically altered their usage habits on fixed and mobile networks during the Covid-19 crisis in 2020. Both fixed and mobile voice calling levels increased substantially (by +17 per cent and + 8 per cent, respectively, YoY) while the number of SMS plummeted to an unprecedented degree (-16 per cent YoY). Data traffic, meanwhile, continues to soar, with active users on 4G networks generating an average of more than 10 Gb a month.