“Terminate copper”: France’s €20bn fibre splurge



blog Australia’s National Broadband Network project might be one of the most ambitious government-funded broadband projects around the globe, but it’s not the only one. Last week the French Government revealed that a combined €20 billion investment in fibre broadband technology, representing a combination of public and private funding, would be ploughed in to help bring the nation’s ageing telecommunications networks up to spec and “terminate the copper”. We can’t find the text of French President Francois Hollande’s speech on the matter, although we’ve scoured his site with Google Translate. There is, however, a video online if you speak French. And Reuters has more:

“High-speed broadband will strengthen the competitiveness of our companies and the quality of our public services,” President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday in a speech outlining the plan. “It is an opportunity to preserve and develop employment.”

ZDNet.com also has a good overview piece on France’s moves, but by far the most interesting article we’ve found is this one linked to by ZDNet. It appears on the website of French newspaper LA Tribune, and again, you’ll need Google Translate to get the full text. This paragraph stood out:

“The other focus of the discussions concerning the termination of copper, that is to say, the total switching the current telephone network, which supports the ADSL, [to] a new fiber network. If the proposed roadmap sets said the central issue, communities and alternative operators demand a deadline to secure their investments.”

The translation’s not great (if there are any French speakers out there, raise your hand for translation duties so we know precisely what we’re dealing with here). However, it seems pretty clear what the French Government is talking about here. France Telecom is already midway through a combined fibre to the premise, fibre to the node and satellite rollout. It looks like what the French Government wants to do is speed that and similar initiatives by other telcos up, with the aim of getting more fibre in more places. The goal of “terminating the copper” is one that, at least for France, appears to be within reach, by around 2025.

Image credit: Bob Hall, Creative Commons


  1. Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate…. !!
    Order more Factional Daleks..destroy the Copper “Time Lords”

  2. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull should have a look at what they are doing overseas to roll out next gen broadband. Oh that’s right, he did, and invested in it. I guess he must think full FTTH rollouts are a pretty good investment.

  3. Obviously this particular rollout change will mean the Member for Wentworth will clearly be watching with interest as other countries embrace fibre. Right?

  4. I can’t wait for Turnbull to tell President Francois Hollande that he is a religious fiber zealot.

    • Exactly like the NBN. Or do you think he will ignore that only about $27B of the funding is from the government and the rest is from private funding?

      • @NBNAccuracy

        Just be careful. It’s private debt, NOT equity. And while you can probably use the word ‘funding’ to describe it, if you spoke to a venture capital firm, they’d disagree. For their ‘investment’ these private (or public for that matter) companies that lend money to NBNCo. get no equity stake in NBNCo.

        It is funding, but in the literal meaning of the word, not the financial colloquial term.

        Sorry to not pick, but other people will otherwise :-P

        • You are correct seven_tech, also if you read the ZDNet article funding might come from a number of sources including a special tax.

          I think we need to wait until Match for more detail as it is quite open at the moment:

          ‘Nor has the government prescribed what technologies will be used for the deployment: FTTH is likely to be the main contender, with others such as 4G filling in the gaps.’

          It may end up being closer to the Coalition proposal than the current Labor all Government owned FTTH proposal.

          • FTTH with 4G isn’t “close to the coalition approach”; because the Coalition hasn’t actually defined a policy. We can’t claim anything is close to the Coalition’s approach, because they don’t yet have one.

            Malcolm has talked about wireless, and FTTN. In nebulous terms. Certainly nothing approaching a cohesive solution. It’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise, really.

          • sorry alain, re-reading your comment you’re referring to the French deployment? in that context ignore my response.

  5. 20 bil euro is 25,452,092,798.33 AUD.

    Now in light of the fact that France is much smaller than Australia, our investment (which will return a profit) seems reasonable.

    And if some of the quick costings here in relation to FTTN are close, then it surly makes sense to just do the FTTH solution.

    I can not believe there were no question on QANDA last night to Turnbull. geeeees :(

    • “I can not believe there were no question on QANDA last night to Turnbull.”

      This is quite common of all Turnbull’s appearances on QandA. He’s been asked very little about it, only one or two ever.

      I can only recall him asking two questions in Question Time about the NBN since he’s been the shadow minister.

      Heaven forbid he be scrutinised.

      • Given Turnbull’s reactions to questions over his portfolio tend to end in deflective acerbic comments about the NBN waste, I’m not sure he will actually answer questions levelled at his (lack of) policies.

        That he never seems to be asked questions related to the above (as in, questions about comms, levelled at the shadow comms minister) on Q&A, despite recent appearances; is perplexing.

        • In regards to that Q&A program it’s not Turnbulls fault he was not ask any curly questions about the NBN, I looked at the submitted list from viewers there was some good ones in there, obviously relative to other issues the ABC decided that the NBN could wait for another Q&A, hopefully they can get Turnbull and Conroy on together.

          • There is a difference between questions submitted, and questions chosen; I am quite sure a number of questions on the topic were asked; again I find it remarkable that no one submitted a question to Turnbull, that relates to his portfolio.

            We already know several questions were asked, based on this very comment thread.

            That doesn’t strike you as odd?

          • I am not sure I would call it odd but I feel more benefit would come from a interaction between Turnbull and Conroy rather that just one of them appearing and answering a question that MAY have some proper research behind it or where either of them could just glibly answer ‘I don’t agree’, and I am not going to explain any further why.

          • Conroy and Turnbull, in the same Q&A?

            Pretty sure that would lead to a large number of people shouting at their televisions. You have a point, regardless.

            I fear, though, that despite the ever present war of ideals and technologies, it’s not considered an important enough topic to warrant the attempt.

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