Orange cheers 6 million FTTH customers

Orange is very excited about hitting its latest full fibre uptake milestone, but there are still plenty of people in France still to sign up to FTTH from the incumbent or a rival.

The French telco has signed up 6 million customers to its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network and says it is connecting close to 10,000 per day. That’s a great effort, and one that should be celebrated. But the race to full fibre is not yet over.

“Over half of all Orange internet customers in France now enjoy fibre in the home or in their place of work,” said Fabienne Dulac, CEO of Orange France, in a statement. Meanwhile, outgoing Orange Group chief executive Stéphane Richard described France as “currently the leading European country for fibre.”

He’s correct insofar as France is performing well compared to its peers. But there is certainly still work to do in France.

According to Orange, by the end of last year it had deployed fibre to 63% of the 29 million premises eligible for FTTH in France, using both its own funds and via partnerships with local authorities. The number of premises increased by 20% during 2021, and that seems to be the statistic Orange is hanging its ‘Europe’s leading country’ claim off.

The FTTH Council Europe’s latest update from September puts France ahead of the market in Europe in 2021 in terms of the number of FTTH homes passed and subscriptions, with only Russia performing better, for reasons of population. The data covers the 15 biggest FTTH markets in Europe. The Council expects France to retain its position over the next five years in subscriptions, but predicts that Germany will overtake it in homes passed.

In penetration terms, France ranked sixth last year with a rate of 49.2%; Belarus and Spain at the top, with 72.7% and 70.6% respectively, are some way ahead.

Thus Orange is focusing on the right thing: getting customers connected. It will need to maintain the momentum in signing up subscribers if it is to help France reach the top of the penetration charts by 2026, something the FTTH Council believes will happen.

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