New plan for superfast internet

SFR and Orange have teamed up in a plan to provide fibre-optic internet to homes outside cities

15 November 2011
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INTERNET operators Orange and SFR have teamed up in a plan to supply fibre-optic internet to homes outside dense urban areas.

Up until now they have mainly been installing the technology in cities, where the easiest returns on investment can be made.

The operators have signed an agreement to link up 9.8 million homes, with SFR undertaking the work for 2.3 million and the rest Orange. Each will allow the other firm the right to use its installations for its customers.

In total, including areas where their plans do not overlap, the operators will be linking up 11 million homes in non-urban areas over the next ten years.

They have called the plan “a major advance in the roll-out of fibre-optic internet”, saying it will enable 60% of homes in total to have superfast broadband by 2020 through the investments of the private companies.

Other internet service providers will be able to sign agreements with them to use their networks, under rules agreed by the industry.

The government’s aim is to have 100% coverage by 2025. The remaining 40% will, it is planned, be linked up in partnerships between operators and local councils, with public funding from local and national government and Europe.

The plan has been welcomed by the telecoms authority Arcep, which said that it would be “suitable and effective”. It said in a statement: “In due course it will enable everyone to benefit from superfast broadband, thanks to fibre-optic networks and new fourth generation mobile phone networks, for which the granting of licences will be completed in January.”

It added France already had the highest number of homes in Europe with fibre-optic access - 20%, and now, thanks to complementary efforts of the public and private sectors, had the “most precise and ambitious investment plan”.

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