Orange to invest Euro 2 billion fibre network in France by 2015

Following the recent clarification of the regulatory framework for the deployment of high speed broadband, Orange is satisfied that the conditions are now in place for a resumption of its investment in fibre. Orange plans to invest around Euro 2 billion between now and 2015 in fibre optics in very dense areas in France (defined by the French telecommunications regulator ARCEP as zone 1), as well as in other dense areas.

The Group already invests almost Euro 3 billion each year in its network and infrastructure in order to be able to provide both its retail and business customers with the best possible quality of service. With this new program, the Group is not planning any substantial change to the amount that it will invest in France, where a large proportion is, and will continue to be, allocated to the modernisation and maintenance of its network and service infrastructure.

This ambitious program will benefit from the lessons learned during the Group’s pre-deployment phase, which was carried out in conjunction with other operators and overseen by ARCEP since 2007. On 30 September 2009, Orange had 33,000 customers subscribing to its fibre services in France.

In this way, Orange shares the ambitions of national authorities to roll out very high speed broadband across the country with the aim of facilitating the development of digital communications tools and maintaining a competitive edge.

In very dense areas, deployment will resume in the nine agglomerations (1) already covered, as well as in the Paris region. This deployment will also be extended from 2010 to new cities such as Cannes, Montpellier, Orleans, Rennes, Strasbourg and Toulon.

In line with ARCEP’s decision, Orange will present its offer for sharing cables installed in buildings in February, and will therefore be able to take part in these investments in the same way as other market players.

Orange also plans to invest in dense areas (zone 2). A test phase will be carried out in Chatou (Yvelines) and Oullins (Rhône) before a wider deployment in six towns from 2010: Brest, Dijon, Le Havre, Pau, Reims and Valenciennes.

Orange is also open to different forms of co-investment with other operators in zone 2. Indeed, an agreement has been signed with SFR to carry out operational tests in Palaiseau and Bondy with a view to drawing up a co-investment contract. Discussions are also being finalized in order to extend this agreement to Free and a third town. This agreement may be opened up to other operators.

Orange aims to be present in all regions of mainland France, in around 45 agglomerations, by 2012, then in all departments of mainland France and in three overseas departments by 2015.

For less dense areas (zone 3), Orange is also open to partnerships with local authorities in order to accelerate the deployment of fibre, if the regulatory context makes this possible, through an intermediary stage based on ramping-up speeds on the existing network (FTTC(2)).