From the second half of the year, the railway group will sell fibre to regional telecom operators for business customers.
On this market dominated by Orange and SFR, the arrival of SNCF should therefore make waves. The company has historically had a 20,000-kilometre fibre network that connects its 3,000 stations in particular. For years, SNCF has already been leasing access to its network to regional telecom operators too modest to build such infrastructures themselves. However, this is very long-distance "dark" fibre. The operators have to install their own equipment to bring it into service. This time, SNCF's ambition is to sell "activated" fibre, i.e. ready to use.
The group assures that it does not want to "disrupt" the market, but simply to contribute to the digital development of the region. The Very High Speed Broadband plan should generalise fibre throughout France by 2022, but today only 23% of VSE-SMEs are connected to it, according to a Covage study.
The SNCF wants to propose a premium offer with the aim of achieving profitability. "The SNCF is going to enter this market with State aid. So this project is not going to be very well received by the major operators. It's a very political issue," says one observer.
There is nothing trivial about the timing of this project. Kosc, a wholesale operator created in 2016 to shake up the Orange-SFR duopoly in corporate telecoms and which leased its fibre network to 65,000 customers, has only six months to find a buyer. In this context, small operators worried about being cut off from the Kosc network could turn... to the SNCF.
Source : Les Echos