This morning in Aurillac, in the very hardcore of Rural France, Mr Michel Mercier, the new Minister of Rural Areas and Regional Planning, has simply made the most exciting announcement I've heard this year so far about Fiber Broadband' matters: by the end of September this year, the French Government will unveil its plan for ultra-broadband access to everyone. The plan is held by the Prime Minister, and will involved the collectivities / local authorities as well as the telecoms operators.
More in the days to come...
UPDATE 08/28/09 : Buddy Blogger Benoit Felten, aka "François" on the other side of the Ocean, has posted a link to the pretty interesting note published by Mr. Jean-Michel Soulier, the new head of french-canadian operators' s operator Covage.
In his note, Jean-Michel unveils the call he received from the french government for participation to the future "Ultra-Broadband To Everyone" Public consortium which will deploy FTTH in medium density areas. Pushing the idea of Open Access, Jean-Michel also discloses to us his response :
- It should be an open access consortium. That is the only way to combine efforts from leading operators without being seen as an anti-competitive vehicle by the European Union lawyers.
- An independent entity should manage it. Once the funds have been committed and the strategic objectives defined by the shareholders, the Board should be able to independently decide where and when to start. This guaranties that no shareholder will try to block the consortium to protect its market share in a specific area.
- Consortium members who are also retail operators should commit to buy FTTH lines from the consortium. Quotas could be defined according to market shares. This would ensure that the FTTH deployments are effectively used to provide services to the end users and generate cash flows that, in turn, enable leverage with bank loans.
- A significant share of the Consortium’s resources should be reserved for partnership with local authorities, between 30% and 50%. This would leverage the funds that the local governments are ready to dedicate to FTTH while guarantying them a framework for their investments.
I like the first criteria: Open Access must be guaranteed. That's exactly what I tweeted (in french, sorry) when I heard the announcement by Mr. Mercier: if Telcos are to fund this initiative, how about Open Neutral Access ? That is the main number one top most critical issue on this "Ultra-Broadband To Everyone" matter: we as citizens and consumers can't afford suffering the same situation than with DSL (when you have access to it...): being tied up with a services provider.
Think out of the TriplePlay box. I don't want Orange to sell me Personal Care services, simply because they are not suited for that: to start with, they don't have the right Technical Support structure for such mission-critical services. Anyone asking Orange for an ADSL line or using their Call Center those days will agree with me: it's a pure nightmare, proving that France Telecom is not really looking after the satisfaction of its customers. Therefore, I would never ever give them the ability to deliver me services such as e-Health or Tele-surveillance: questionable reliability, hence a lack of 100% trust & confidence. This is FT-Orange, so you can imagine what's about its rivals, the SFRs and Frees: no better.
FTTH doesn't mean HD/3D-TV. It's means a dumb pipe able to carry any type of data at any rate comprised between 1bps to 1Gbps and even higher. Think Sustainable Development for one: data sent by remote/dispatched sensors, SmartGrid, renewable energies sources 's monitoring, etc. Do you think your Telco is really able to provide you with such services ?...