France - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
France’s telecom sector shows strong return to investment
France has the third largest telecoms market in Europe after Germany and the UK. The incumbent telco Orange Group is one of the world’s major players with interests in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company recently embarked on its five-year ‘Essentials 2020’ program which is focussed on emerging markets as well as on investments in super-fast broadband and LTE infrastructure within its European footprint. Despite market liberalisation, the company still dominates all sectors though increasing competition from a number of major players (notably SFR Group and Iliad) has gradually eroded this lead, prompting it to respond with a range of innovative offers and wide-ranging strategies to meet future customer needs. It is also investing in a national fibre network, largely in response to the activities of smaller players.
In the broadband market subscriber growth has been bolstered by demand for high bandwidth applications, prompting considerable investment in fibre infrastructure among telcos and regional governments. The pro-competitive regulator has also promoted access to Orange’s DSL network and fibre networks for new entrants. In early 2017 the regulator considered a range of measures to improve access to Orange’s networks.
DSL still dominates the broadband market in terms of access lines, though in 2016 the number of DSL lines began to fall for the first time as customers were migrated to fibre infrastructure. Fibre deployments have grown substantially in recent years, with all of the major ISPs concentrating their investments in fibre with a view to promoting 1Gb/s services. Although the cable footprint only reaches about 40% of the population, the dominant cableco SFR Group has upgraded its network to compete with DSL and has itself entered the DSL and fibre markets. By September 2016 SFR had 1.97 million customers served by fibre.
The French mobile phone market is also one of the largest in Europe. The network operators Orange, SFR Group, Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile have invested in network infrastructure and technologies in recent years. LTE-A providing data at above 300Mb/s had extensive coverage by early 2017, while both Orange and Bouygues Telecom are involved in 5G trials. The regulator has also been supportive, having licensed spectrum in the 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz bands since mid-2016. In early 2017 it opened a consultation with a view to releasing spectrum in these bands for mobile broadband use while retaining a portion of the 3.5G band for 5G in anticipation of that technology coming into commercial use from about 2018. The mobile sector is dominated by four providers, complemented by an increasing number of MVNOs which together had a market share of around 11% of subscribers by early 2017.
This report introduces the key aspects of France’s telecom market, providing updated statistics on the country’s fixed network, an analysis of operator strategies, and a review of the key regulatory issues including the status of number portability, wholesaling and carrier preselection. In addition the report assesses the fixed broadband market, focussing on cable, DSL and the fast-developing FttP/C sectors. It reviews the strategies of the principal providers such as Orange, Iliad and SFR Group, and considers the regulatory status of LLU and access to fibre infrastructure. The report also evaluates the mobile voice and data markets, assessing recent developments related to spectrum licensing and regulatory issues and providing profiles of the major players and MVNOs, including statistics on their operating and financial performance as well as their strategies in an increasingly fierce competitive market.
Bouygues Telecom sets up Objenious subsidiary dedicated to the Internet of Things;
Ireland-France Cable-1 system set to begin construction;
Orange’s LoRa network available in 2,600 towns by February 2017;
Orange sets up Orange Horizons subsidiary to exploit potential in new markets, sets out five-year Essentials 2020 strategy;
Telecom sector investment recovers from 2009 downturn;
SFR Group increases footprint of its 1Gb/s FttP service;
DSL subscriber base begins to fall;
Orange partners with Ericsson and Nokia to develop a path to 5G;
MNOs make progress on mobile dead zones coverage;
Regulator proposes mobile broadband use for 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz band spectrum;
Bouygues Telecom completes sale of 500 towers on lease-back arrangement;
MVNO market share approaches 11% of subscribers;
Cdiscount launches videostreaming service;
Orange launches OTT HDMI dongle for access to Orange streaming services;
Report update includes the regulator’s market data to September 2016, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q3 2016, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Orange, Iliad, SFR Group (SFR, Numéricable), Orange, Iliad, Bouygues Telecom, Vivendi, TPS, AB Group, TNTSat, Canal+, Orange, Free Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Omea Telecom.
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