France begins super fast broadband rollout

France Telecom on Friday morning stepped up plans for the roll out of its super fast Fibre To The Home (FTTH) broadband network. The operator said that the early stage deployment phase will run from 2007 to 2008, with the aim of having 150,000 to 200,000 customers connected by the end of 2008 out of a potential client base of 1 million.

From 2007, France Telecom will offer internet access with symmetrical speeds of up to 100Mbps, alongside several high definition TV and PC channels and unlimited call offerings.

The operator anticipates that it will offer the first services in March in Paris and several neighboring regions, before being rolled out from June to a dozen cities, including Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Poitiers and Toulouse.

Didier Lombard, the France Telecom Group’s chairman and chief executive officer, said “After an initial pilot phase in 2006, the group is stepping up a gear, increasing the range of very high speed broadband services available with Orange as well as expanding the regional coverage of its network for the future. This new phase will pave the way for the broader deployment of fiber to the home which we foresee in 2009 and beyond, when there will be content and services available which would justify such capacity for many of our customers”.

Lombard said that the total investment in the network over the next two years is estimated at Eur270m, in line with the operator’s NExT strategy in terms of the ratio of CAPEX to consolidated revenues.

However, the operator also warned that the development of very high speed broadband for the mass market would require certain adaptations by equipment suppliers, operators and content and service providers. To this end, France Telecom believes it will take at least two years before this adaptation process is complete.

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