"The objective will be met: to bring very high speed broadband to 100% of French people by the end of 2022, 80% of which will be fibre - probably more," said Cédric O, the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs.
After a decade of work and more than 20 billion euros invested, the figures prove him right. Indeed, two thirds of French households were eligible for fibre optics last spring. With a current rate of 15,000 new homes and businesses seeing fibre arrive on their doorstep every day, the 80% mark will be passed by the first half of 2022.
For French people not covered, there is an alternative solution offering speeds of over 100 Mb/s: VDSL, cable or, soon, satellite - thanks to the commissioning of Eutelsat's very powerful Konnect VHTS.
The gamble has therefore been successful nine years after the launch of the "France Very High Speed Plan". Especially since the objectives have been raised: the estimated total number of households in France has risen from 36 million in 2013 to 41 million in 2022, without lowering the 80% mark. And that there was no shortage of difficulties: shortage of raw materials, shortage of manpower, stoppage of construction sites at the start of the pandemic, etc.
The work still needs to be finished, because even in large cities, around 10% of homes are still without fibre optics. In medium-sized towns, the situation is not satisfactory either. They were supposed to be fully covered by fibre by the end of 2020. Six months after the deadline, only four out of five homes were eligible. The government and Arcep are passing the quid on a possible sanction, but a certain annoyance is perceptible on the part of the authorities. As for the countryside, fibre is being rolled out at breakneck speed. But they are not fully covered by the projects already launched. About 2 million homes are still in limbo. These lines, the most complicated to build and the least profitable, will require new subsidies.
Through the stimulus package, the government has already put €150 million on the table. The industry estimates that at least two to three times more will be needed. An evaluation mission should be made public at the end of the year. We will then know how much the next executive will have to invest if it wants to bring fibre to 100% of French people.
Source : Les Echos