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The French Secret: Fiber Will Happen Because the Ducts Have Room
Written by Dave Burstein   
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 01:25

French ducts are large

No digging most places per France Telecom
Marc Lebourges of France Telecom writes “there is enough availability in existing ducts to
accommodate fibre deployment” in France. That’s not true in the Netherlands or all of Britain, Lebourges observes, but makes sense. Fiber takes less space than copper, at least in PON deployments.

Because the fiber doesn’t require digging, it’s practical in most of France to have two or more competitive fiber carriers. The last loop, from the customer to the basement or neighborhood box, would be built by one carrier and shared. Behind that, each carrier would run their own fiber back to the exchange. He believes all but ~20% of the homes can have two fiber choices, many 3-5 carriers competing.

Those networks are now being actively built by FT & SFR and the fiberization of France is finally gaining steam. ARCEP has separately accepted that less dense or otherwise expensive areas will get VDSL for now, not fiber.

The 2011 paper, Competition via Investment, An Efficient Model for FTTH Rollout, is free at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1810505. Here’s an extract.

Conventional wisdom mainly considers fibre rollout as a manpower activity, workers digging kilometres of trenches. This is not an accurate image, in particular where there is enough availability in existing ducts to accommodate fibre deployment, as it is the case in France. When ducts have been built for copper cables, available room for fibre cables in those ducts should not come as a surprise for anyone who has compared the very small diameter of fibre cables to the large diameter of copper cables. In France, statistics as well as experience have shown that, provided existing ducts are used efficiently, nearly no capacity investment in civil works will be needed. This may not be the case in all countries. For instance, there are no ducts in the Netherlands. In the UK, following the study by AnalysysMason for Ofcom, significant reinvestment in civil works appears to be needed for fibre, apparently due to the bad physical state of some portions of the infrastructure more than to the lack of available space.