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The French countryside better connected to the fiber internet than the cities

Rural areas in France have better fiber-optic internet access than many cities, and more than 60% of households in the country have access to coverage, a figure well above the European average, new figures suggest.

Fiber optic internet has been deployed throughout France much faster than ADSL broadband, with more than 60% of French people now having access to fiber, Le Figaro reported October 7.

This is much higher than the European average, at 38%, and much higher than in Germany, for example, where fiber optic coverage is only 8%.

Low density areas have better deployment than others

Small towns and “low density” rural areas are also increasingly equipped with fiber optics, at a faster rate than urban centers.

The Association of Cities and Communities for Electronic Communications and Audiovisual (Avicca) estimates that 15 million households have subscribed to a fiber offer, more than those who have subscribed to ADSL.

At the end of June, 27 million households were eligible for fiber and rural areas had more coverage than many urban centers, according to the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Arcep).

During a high-speed internet event on October 6 and 7, the Minister for Digital Telecommunications, Cédric O, declared: “Rural areas are at the forefront of deployments, which is excellent news for the development of provinces.

His statement is substantiated by Arcep figures, whose latest fixed broadband market report for the second quarter of 2021 shows that not only are major cities not the best equipped with fiber optics, but the deployment of the technology is also proving to be slower in areas urban.

The website comparator of Internet offers offers an online map for Internet users who want to know whether or not a municipality is connected to optical fiber.

Click on the map below to view an interactive map of fiber optic coverage and to search for your region.


Paradoxically less well connected urban areas

Despite the rapid deployment in some areas, many more densely populated areas are “forgotten,” experts said.

Ariel Turpin, CEO of Avicca, said: “The deployment of fiber in densely populated areas has been stagnant for years and is in free fall in ‘medium-dense’ areas.

The government could even impose sanctions on two operators, Orange and SFR, which it suspects of not keeping their contractual promises.

Orange was supposed to cover 100% of medium-density areas with optical fiber by next year, and SFR has pledged to provide 92% coverage in its areas, but that’s still a long way off, according to the figures.

Orange has defended its deployment, claiming that it lacks only “a few hundred thousand points of sale, against more than six million [that were] deployed during the Covid period “.

Certain areas of large cities are still likely to be areas of “black-out” of optical fiber, such as certain areas of Lille and Nantes, because the operators have made no commitment.

The government can still intervene with Orange, since it is a shareholder.

5G Free Mobile Champion

As for 5G, its deployment is accelerating.

Free Mobile deployed the most 5G sites of any network in the last quarter, according to an October 8 report.

Arcep shows that 664 other Free Mobile 5G sites were put online during this period. The other networks, Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR, have installed much less: respectively 290, 219 and 231.

As of June 30, 2021, figures show that Free Mobile had 10,229 5G sites; Bouygues Telecom had 2,943; Orange, 1,872; and SFR held 1,751.

Arcep has an interactive tool that the public can consult, to check the 3G, 4G and 5G coverage in their area.

The introduction of 5G has proved controversial for some in France, with a 2020 study found that the technology could harm the environment; and two Catholic monks recently arrested for setting fire to antennas near Lyon.

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