The deployment of optical fiber has fallen behind schedule, will the objectives for 2025 be met?

The number of fiber optic connections was below expectations in 2023. The coverage rate now reaches 86%, with a target of 98% by the end of 2025.

Credits: 123RF

The year 2023 did not live up to expectations in terms of deployment of optical fiber in France, according to the Territorial Digital Transition Observatory. 3.5 million sockets joined the network last year, below the forecast of 4.17 million sockets announced a year ago. In total, 38 million premises were connectable as of December 31, 2023, i.e. 86% coverage in FTTH.

The objectives set by the France Very High Speed ​​Plan for 2025 are still achievable, estimates InfraNum. “If the pace of deployment logically slows down given the difficulties encountered in the last laps of the track, we must remain focused to make the final efforts”commented the president of this federation of telecommunications infrastructure professionals.

Despite deployments, fiber penetration slows

At the current rate of deployments, the coverage rate of the territory will rise to around 96% in 2025, a gain of 10 points in two years. But there is an even more optimistic scenario. If Orange’s coverage commitments in the AMII zone (Call for Expression of Investment Intention) and ZTD (Very Dense Zone) are met, it will be possible to achieve the 98% coverage in 2025.

This year, the Observatory is introducing a new indicator, highlighting the rate of municipalities having reached a completeness rate greater than 98%. In 2023, 36% of municipalities in the RIP (Public Initiative Network) zone exceeded this threshold, compared to 10% of municipalities located in the private initiative zone. As the report notes, the issue of financing complex connections remains an issue in achieving completeness.

Territorial digital transition observatory
Credit: Observatory of the digital transition of territories 2024

Furthermore, total coverage of the territory is far from guaranteeing results in terms of marketing the fiber network. If network infrastructure operators and communities are struggling to deign to finance the latest connections, it is because they are seeing “a glass ceiling around 70%”. If a sprint takes place when the networks are opened (30% at 6 months and 50% at 2 years), the fiber penetration rate in homes then stagnates between 50 and 70%. Those who resist will have to go there at some point: the dismantling of the copper network began at the start of the year.

Source: InfraNum

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