According to the FTTH Council Europe, the recently unveiled FTTH project set to roll out universal high-speed broadband access in Paris indicates a highly positive step in the development of fibre infrastructure deployments across Europe.
Crucially, in addition to providing 2.1 million Parisian residences with 50Mbps connections within the first two years, Free – the group behind the new project – also promises to open up the new network to all other operators; a move applauded by the Council.
“Free’s decision to open up its network is unique in Europe and a remarkable development for the European broadband marketplace,” said Hartwig Tauber, President of the FTTH Council Europe.
“The partnership with City authorities demonstrates how FTTH projects are becoming increasingly recognised for their potential economical and social benefits, and validates the widely accepted belief that competitive FTTH is possible where civil infrastructure barriers are addressed.
This new project is fully in-line with The “Paris-Digital City” initiative and we note that in this case, the co-operation between Free and the Municipality of Paris is a fundamental cornerstone of the deal, helping make Next Generation Broadband a reality in the French Capital.”
As well as attracting new demand, the project will see Free migrate all its existing ADSL2+ based subscribers to FTTH at no additional charge, providing high-speed broadband services including unlimited voice and HDTV to over 4 million people across various areas of France by 2012.
Although this agreement indicates progress in the European FTTH market, the development in Paris, like others deployed in Amsterdam and Vienna focuses upon a densely populated area, Tauber comments; “By concentrating on customer numbers alone Europe runs the risk of creating a digital divide between its rural and urban areas. Although cities are crucial to Europe’s fibre development, less built-up areas could be left behind.”
He continues, “This progress confirms the increasing dedication France has given to FTTH development. With the “Paris-Digital City” initiative and promising fibre-based pilots being driven energetically by France Telecom, France stands as an exemplar to other countries in Europe.”