Here is the second fibre story to hit the headlines:
As expected, the new combined French cable operator announced that it was about to launch an optical fibre service at the first press conference since the grand merger. The new cablo still trades under the names of its component operators (Noos, UPC, NC Numericable, France Telecom Cable, Est Videocom, TDF Cable as well as Coditel in Belgium), so as not to confuse existing subscribers, all under the umbrella of Ypso France. It accounts for 99.6% of French cable networks, generating E1 bn of sales a year from 4.5 million clients, including 300,000 cable telephone subscribers and 700,000 broadband.
Patrick Drahi, Chairman of Altice (which owns 30% of Ypso) explained that harmonizing the very large number of combinations of services, prices, packages and conditions from its component cablos is a mammoth task.
The network is being upgraded to optical fibre, using FTTB technology using coaxial cable within the building. The cost “fiberising” subscribers was not disclosed but Drahi did say it was less than the E700 mentioned by its rival Erenis a few days previously. The figure of E100 per subscriber was bandied about by observers.
The high speed service, 100 megabit/s will be available from 4 December, for E30 a month, as well as various double and triple play packages. It will be rolled out initially in 10 towns and rapidly extended to all the service area. E100 million a year is being invested in the project. A basic offer, costing just E4 a month, will be offered to collective dwellings, consisting of telephone, 48 channels and 256 k of bandwidth, on condition that the whole building is cabled. “This will breach the digital divide” said Drahi. Residents will then already be connected if they want to take up a premium option.
Other announcements at the press conference included increasing the number of channels, to eventually reach 500 and the launch of HD and VOD at the beginning of 2007