Fully fiber-optic France in 2025, the impossible bet

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Fully fiber-optic France in 2025, the impossible bet

The fiber does not deploy fast enough. In the latest edition of its high-speed and high-throughput observatory, Arcep, the regulator of the telecom sector, is sounding the alarm. Already observed during the first quarter, the slowdown in the pace of fiber optic (FttH) deployments continued in the second. Only 870,000 additional premises have been made connectable, which is 20% less than in the same period in 2022.

With this quarterly growth of 2%, the coverage rate of optical fiber reached 83% on June 30th. This means that of the 43.8 million premises identified on the national territory, only 36.2 million are connectable. What is there to call into question the objective of a generalization of fiber everywhere in France in 2025 set out by the government? The map posted online by Arcep still shows many white areas.

Big cities stagnate…

On the ground, this slowdown does not apply uniformly. Paradoxically, it particularly affects the so-called very dense zones (ZTD). In the big cities and their agglomerations, less than 50,000 premises were made connectable in the second quarter, a decrease of almost half compared to the same period last year.

A figure that makes Avicca jump. While the telecom operators have fought to intervene in these 106 densely populated municipalities, they are slow to finish the job. The association which brings together communities engaged in digital technology notes, on its website, that the completeness rate in Rennes has increased, in one year, from 92 to 93% of connectable premises. In Vanves, it decreased from 95 to 94% over the same period.

These two cities are not chosen at random. They will be among the first to be concerned by the extinction of the copper network that supports ADSL. “Vouloir
push, as Orange does, to the closure of the ADSL network in a
increasing number of municipalities in the very dense area while stopping there
FttH deployments is, let’s say it courteously, incomprehensible
“, tackles the Avicca.

Some very dense areas have much lower coverage rates. We can mention those located in Meurthe-et-Moselle (77%), in the Bouches du Rhône (81%), Puy de Dôme (84%), Herault (85%), Loiret (86%) or the North (86%).

The situation is not necessarily better in moderately dense areas, so-called “AMII” for “call for manifestation of investment intention”. Observed during the previous quarters, the decrease in the pace of deployment is confirmed with only 130,000 premises made connectable, a fall of almost half compared to the same period of the previous year.

“We have to go back to 2014 to observe such a weak quarterly progress in these areas”, laments Arcep. At the end of the second quarter, about 89% of the premises in the municipalities on which Orange has committed can be connected. This rate amounts to approximately 95% in the case of SFR. In view of these figures, the end of deployments in the private area will not be effective in 2025 but rather in 2028, Avicca calculates.

…while rural areas are accelerating

On the other hand, deployments in the AMEL zone accelerated in the second quarter with more than 90,000 premises made connectable. As a reminder, the Calls for manifestation of local commitments (AMEL) allow local authorities to launch calls for tenders for operators in order to take charge of the deployment of fiber in the municipalities separated from the AMII.

However, this progress is considered insufficient by Avicca for infrastructure operators to meet their commitments on time, with the notable exception of AMEL Saône-et-Loire (XpFibre). In Nièvre, the same operator XpFibre, belonging to SFR, reduced its initial delay from more than a year to six months. The association sees in it the results of the procedure launched by the State and the Nièvre Numérique mixed union As for the other AMEL,” the deadlines are either all exceeded by more than a year, or they are still too far away to venture to establish a prognosis of delay. »

On the other hand, the level of deployment in sparsely populated areas, in rural areas or in the mountains in particular, remains high. With 600,000 premises made connectable, Public Initiative Networks (PIRS), combining public and private investments, carry the bulk of the fiber deployment in France. « The most dynamic territories have reached completeness “, rejoices the Avicca. This is good news in the context of the fight against the digital divide.

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