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Fixed broadband networks

COUR DES COMPTES

In 2013, the State undertook a very-high-speed broadband programme (Plan France très haut debit), whose objective was to reach 100% of the 35 million households and businesses in France by 2022, with 80% of the coverage provided with fibre to the home (FTTH) networks. This deployment is supported by private operators and by the initiatives and financing of local authorities.
For this first assessment, the Cour des comptes and the regional audit chambers reviewed 47 projects covering one half of the population and one third of the territory. The financial courts now put the Plan’s total cost at €34.9 billion, whereas the initial estimate was €20 billion. Moreover, while the intermediate coverage objective (50% by 2017) will be reached, insufficient investment by the private sector is making it unlikely the objective of 100% coverage by 2022 will be achieved.
The financial courts are therefore asking that the objectives be updated; that alternatives to FTTH technology be considered so as to build out networks with a mix of technologies that would be less costly; and that a minimal connectivity objective for all users be set. Generally speaking, the Plan has focused on the construction of fixed infrastructures shared by all types of subscribers, with little thought given to the variety of uses, while infrastructures are only one aspect of the digital transformation.