France Telecom-Orange and SFR announce agreement

France Telecom-Orange and SFR signed an agreement today that marks a major step forward in the deployment of optical fiber outside very densely-populated areas of France.

The agreement is an important milestone because out the 11 million households outside very dense areas that are covered by the fiber deployment plans drawn-up by France Telecom-Orange and SFR, 9.8 million are in agglomerations where both operators have redundant deployment projects. Under the agreement, SFR will serve 2.3 million of these households and France Telecom-Orange will serve 7.5 million.

The initiative by the two groups is a new step following the deployment plans that each submitted to the Commissariat Général à l’Investissement (the State investment agency) in response to the latter’s request for detailed information on its plans to invest in Very High-Speed Broadband networks (Appel à Manifestation d’Intention d’Investissements).

The agreement solidifies the two group’s deployment goals. To avoid project duplication, the agreement designates the operator responsible for deployment in each commune in a way that ensures the best deployment schedule and network coverage with regards to the interests of consumers and local authorities.

To offer diversified services to all consumers, France Telecom-Orange and SFR have made a commitment to maintaining a commercial presence in the areas covered by the agreement, each buying wholesale services from the group that will ultimately deploy the local network. In line with the conditions set-out by the French regulator ARCEP, other market players will also be able to obtain access to the infrastructure deployed by either operator, including through co-financing projects, for their own very high-speed broadband offers.

Each party agrees to cover each commune no later than five years after the deployment process has started.

In the coming days, France Telecom-Orange and SFR will contact representatives of the local authorities concerned by these very high-speed broadband projects. This will enable them to organize the necessary discussions at a local level to ensure the appropriate balance between public and private deployment plans.

In total, including deployment in very densely-populated areas, fiber will reach nearly 60% of all French households by 2020, thanks to private-operator investment.

Each group is prepared to cooperate with local authorities to choose from among many solutions for reaching the remaining 40% of households, in an approach favoring complementary deployment plans and overall efficiency.