lunes, 2 de julio de 2018

An advanced broadband scenario: the case of France



In this post we analyse the French broadband, with the collaboration of Marianne Fromencourt. Have you ever counted how many times a day you consult Internet? - The answer would be an average of 26,6 times a day for French people, according to an investigation realised by the society Ipsos MORI in june of 2016. It is almost the double number for French people between 18 and 24 years old, who consult their smartphone until 50 times a day. Internet appeared in France only 24 years ago, in 1994, but it represents today a big part of our daily life. 
 
Only twenty years after Internet's birth, in 2014, 80,7% of French households had an Internet access. Internet spirit follows us all day, from the news that we consult in the morning to the funny video that we watch to relax after our working day. Moreover we all have a full planning and some people do teleworking, so we want and we need a fast access to Internet. That's why broadband is made for. In France, broadband can be counted between 512 Kbps and 30 Mbps. The French Senate considers that we can talk about broadband from 2 Mbps.


In France, the coverage by broadband technology is quite advanced compared to most of other European countries, most of all when we talk about rural broadband. The country has the fourth highest rural coverage of Standard Cable and the fifth highest for DOCSIS 3. France gives also a high access to optical fiber to the population, with FTTP coverage at 21%, which is more than any other large country in Europe. Yet, the country coverage is not always on the top. For example, France is at the 24th in Europe for total NGA ( Next-Generation Access ) coverage.

Moreover, French broadband is not well shared around the country. Big cities as Paris and its suburbs, Lyon, Strasbourg or Marseille have between 69 % and 100 % NGA coverage while rural regions such as Jura and Brittany are in the 35 % to 65 % range. Some French regions only have 1 % or 2 %, and some has none. These places that can't have an access to broadband internet are called zones blanches ( white zones ). We call this geographical gap fracture numérique (numerical split).
There are different French Internet service providers: ADSL, VDSL2, cable and optical fiber. In 2008, France had 16.3 million broadband connections, of which 94 % are ADSL subscribers. France is so the second largest ADSL market in Europe. ADSL's potential is exploited at 100 %, and so is VDSL2's potential. It is not the same situation for the cable, which is only at 2 % of its potential. The optical fiber is even less exploited, with 0,1 % of its potential.
In terms of speed, the optical fiber is the faster to download a file, followed by the cable and the VDSL2, while the ADSL is the slower way to download.
In France, we make a distinction between high speed, called 'broadband' ( Haut Débit ) and  superfast broadband (Très Haut Débit). The term of 'superfast broadband' can be employed from the speed of 30 Mbps. With superfast broadband connection, we can send and receive a big number of data in a short time. It can be delivered by optical fiber, cable and VDSL2. If 11 millions of households can access to superfast broadband, only 2 millions of French people choose to pay the offer to access it. Considering this 11 millions of households, 3 million people have taken the optical fiber (with Orange, SFR, Free or Bouygues Telecom), 8,6 millions have chosen the cable (with Numéricable or Bouygues Telecom ) and 2,4 millions can access to the VDSL2.
But there are places where people can't receive broadband Internet. Effectively, an estimated 500,000 households in rural areas can't access to ADSL connection. This fact depends on the place where our house is situated, because in France there is a distinction between the zones de dégroupage total (full unbundling zone) and the zones de dégroupage partiel (partial unbundling zone). The households that are not in a unbundling zone (zones non-dégroupées) can only access to ADSL, and not at the highest speeds. Before 2004, people living in the non-unbundling and partial unbundling zones had to set up telephone service with France Télécom first ( the previous name of Orange ) and not another telephone service, because this company was nationalized more than 150 years ago – it is now again a private enterprise since 2013. But we have to precise that the non-unbundling zones are not very common in France, and there are less and less existing over the time. High speed connection so can be find by 3G, Microwave connections, WiMax, satellite, or LES (Lan Extension Services). Moreover, in 2012, 75 % of French households didn't have any access to superfast broadband.
How to change that? To solve this problem, in 2013, Hollande's government started a project called Plan Très Haut Débit ( project superfast broadband ). The aim of this project is to cover the whole french territory with superfast broadband before 2022. It could permit to private individuals, enterprises and administrations to use efficiently the information and communication technologies. As a result, any French people, wherever he is in a big city or in a deep countryside, will have the possibility to participate to the Internet activity. It represents an investment of 20 million Euros provided by public and private parts. These are territorial collective projects, that are supported by the government, with the aim of deploying private operators. The States will also give 3,3 millions Euros to subsidize these projects. This initiative presents a lot of advantages for the population, such as boost competitiveness and local attractivity and it will furnish all territories in numerical facilities. Moreover, people will have the possibility to use superfast broadband at work, and so will be able to work with people of the whole world without any constraint, in a world where all frontiers are abolished. In this world, Internet connection becomes a necessity for enterprises' competitiveness and development. Superfast broadband is also a tool to open-up the country.
The major French Internet service providers are Orange which has 40 % market share, Free, SFR, Numéricable and Bouygues Telecom.
 
This project will also create almost 20 000 jobs to develop the news facilities needed. The government plans to use this new capacity to create new forms of citizenship. Yet in this plan, it is true that many mishaps could appear, such as legal, organisational, commercial and physical problems. As a result, ex-President Hollande announced that this project would take 10 years to be accomplished. If we don't know yet the outcome of the plan, at least we know that its success may be found. Actually, at the end of 2016, 50 % of French population could already access to superfast broadband connection. 79 % of French households had a broadband internet access in 2016, while only 30 % French households had one in 2006. This means that the percentage has more than doubled in ten years, so the development of broadband in France is obviously increasing. Most of all, the French government makes the development of broadband a priority. Indeed, French leaders have understood the increasing importance of broadband in our future technological, numerical and all-connected world.

We analyze international broadband evolution (here, the French case) in this blog, in Research Group about Digital Journalism and Marketing and Broadband and in Research Group on Innovative Monetization Systems of Digital Journalism, Marketing and Tourism (SIMPED), from CECABLE,  Escola Universitària Mediterrani of UdGUPF and Blanquerna-URL, in Twitter (@CECABLEresearch), Google+, in the group of LinkedIn, in the page of LinkedIn, in the group of Facebook, in Instagram (CECABLE), in Pinterest and in this blog. We will go in deep in the XXIV Cable and Broadband Catalonia Congress (April 2019, Barcelona).
 

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