On Monday 17th July, President Macron announced a new version of France’s “Plan Très Haut Débit” (High Speed Broadband Plan), at the Territories Conference. He is trying to bridge the digital divide currently experienced throughout France in rural areas and black spots which often have no option for high speed broadband.
High speed broadband for everyone, everywhere
Macron is pushing for high speed broadband development throughout France, stating at the conference, “I want to accelerate the timeline to cover all areas of France with high and very high-speed broadband before the end of 2020 and not 2022”, as was previously stated. He said: “I can confirm it (the roll out) will no longer be 2022”. Implying in his speech that if he states 2020 and the rollout is a bit delayed then they will have 2021 to catch up.
He announced that he wanted to make use of alternative technologies to “the extreme”, to facilitate the rollout in rural areas where fibre infrastructure costs are prohibitive. He said, “I am considering complementary technologies, from fibre, mobile, and particularly satellite internet”. In his opinion, it is “impossible to promise fibre broadband for every household in France”.
Currently, 2 million households across the country are unable to access fast broadband, however they can benefit from fast satellite broadband today – without waiting for Macron’s rollout scheme, which will likely include satellite internet as the main option for the most rural areas.
Government Support and subsidy schemes for high speed internet
Following the original announcement in 2013 of the “Plan France Très haut Débit”, which commits to 100% coverage of high speed broadband by 2022, the various telecoms providers in France demonstrated their discontent about the lack of financial investment from the government. Macron underlined again at the conference that “the deployments aren’t going fast enough, with the telecom companies today still baulking about ‘unprofitable areas’”.
He then specified that, “We have to, by the end of this year, take new incentive incentive measures -and constraints – towards telecoms providers”. He went on to reassure the people that, “we will allocate a part of the planned investment to prioritise broadband subsidies in areas where telecoms companies have failed.”.
The subsidy schemes are planned to take effect before the end of 2017 focusing on areas where fibre is not an option to connect households to high speed internet.