FTTH networks in France

With the growth of new digital uses, whether for home entertainment or teleworking, the growing need for Very High Speed and network stability is well established. Unlike the copper network, optical fibre opens up the possibility of an almost unlimited level of throughput, both for receiving and sending data, and regardless of the distance from the connection node.

What does FTTH mean?

A Fiber To The Home (FTTH), or fibre to the French subscriber, is a network that provides an optical fibre link from the operator or Internet service provider to the subscriber's home. FTTH is one of the most powerful technologies for fixed Internet access :

  • It promotes the performance and the reliability of passive infrastructure,
  • It offers the fastest and most symmetrical connection speeds,
  • It allows the evolution of new Internet uses, multimedia and connected services thanks to speeds much higher than those of ADSL.


Optical fiber: your data at the speed of light

A glass or plastic wire thinner than a hair, the fibre carries data by means of a light signal: this data travels at the speed of light, with virtually no limitation on flow or alteration by distance.

According to the European Commission, Internet access is considered to be very high speed (VHS) as soon as the speed exceeds 30 megabits per second (Europe 2020 Strategy). The term throughput refers to the amount of information that a network can transfer in a given time. It is expressed in "bit", a unit of measurement of the amount of data that can flow through a network (kilobits, megabits or gigabits depending on the flow level). The higher the throughput, the faster the transmission and reception of data (documents, videos, music, etc.).

FTTH: a sustainable technology

Deploying an FTTH network is a long-term investment. Indeed, if the life expectancy of an underground optical cable is at least 25 years, the lifetime of this technology will probably be longer. Thus, this network will gradually replace the copper local loop (telephone network), which will have a lifespan of more than 50 years in most parts of the country. Thus, we speak of the Mutualized Optical Local Loop (BLOM).

In addition, the capillarity of optical links is a key issue for 5G, thus facilitating the connection of radio antennas, but also sensors and other equipment for local authorities in smart territories.

The deployment of the FTTH network in France

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In 2013, the French government launched the France THD Plan, which aims to cover the entire territory in THD by 2022. It represents a total public and private investment of €20 billion. The government's two watchwords are:

  • Cohesion: the State wants to guarantee everyone access to good broadband (>8Mbits/s) or very high speed and to generalise high-quality mobile coverage (4G) by 2020,
  • Ambition: the State aims to provide all the territories of the Republic with state-of-the-art digital infrastructures by offering THD access (>30Mbits/s) by 2022.


In addition to the economic and social challenge of the new digital economy, the objective of this plan is to open up territories far from large cities.

To generalize access for all to THD-related uses, the France THD Plan plans to generalize the deployment of FTTH networks, gradually replacing copper in the telephone network with optical fiber. All French premises (housing and professional establishments) are targeted.

As of 31 March 2019, 14.5 million premises are connectable to FttH on approximately 37 million premises.

For companies and public services

The France THD Plan makes economic activity zones and public services (schools, colleges, lycées, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) "priority sites" for the deployment of optical fibre.

For all residents

In some areas, the rules of the Arcep require that all new buildings (except single-family homes) must be equipped with a fibre network at the foot of the building.

A European challenge

By 2025, in accordance with the objectives of the European Commission (Gigabit Society), all European households, rural or urban, should have access to a connection of at least 100 Mbit/s "upgradable" to reach 1 Gbit/s.

Although the European Commission's Digital Agenda is technology-neutral, France has chosen FTTH, which it considers the most sustainable solution in the long term, due to its scalability. By 2022, more than 80% of the housing stock should be eligible for FTTH.

A private and public commitment

Under the France THD Plan, private operators undertake to deploy FTTH networks using their own funds in areas of high population concentration for which deployment is economically viable.

These zones include:

  • The "where several operators can deploy their fibre optic infrastructures, 106 cities are concerned;
  • IIIMA zones (call for expressions of investment intent), which are less profitable than very dense zones but in which one or more operators have expressed their intentions to deploy fibre optic infrastructure since 2011 and which are the subject of agreements with local authorities. Orange is responsible for deployments in 2975 municipalities and SFR in 632 municipalities (11.1 million premises for Orange, 2.5 million for SFR).


In total, private operators' deployments are intended to cover 57% of the population, grouped in 3713 municipalities, with an investment of 6 to 7 billion euros. These commitments were made by the operators to the State in accordance with Article L33-13 of the French Post and Electronic Communications Code.

In addition, the most rural areas are left to local public initiative with financial support from the State and Europe for public-private partnerships. The Public Initiative Networks (RIPs) resulting from these partnerships, often Public Service Delegations under lease or concession, are shared neutral networks operated by an Infrastructure Operator.

There are 6 main players in the RIP market, building and operating RIPs: Altitude Infrastructure, Axione, Covage, Orange, SFR FttH and TDF. Commercial Operators can offer their offers on the retail market by accessing the lines operated by the Infrastructure Operator. In these areas of public initiative, the objective of the France THD Plan is to obtain coverage of at least 50% of the premises in FTTH by 2022.

In all areas of public initiative, deployment has accelerated, with a 2.5-fold increase in the number of lines made marketable per quarter between 2018 and 2019: from 100,000 to 250,000. This acceleration must continue, since it will be necessary to deploy about 2 million catches per year from 2019 in the public initiative area to hopefully achieve the objectives of the France THD Plan.

It should also be noted that, with regard to the private initiative area, a strong acceleration is also necessary for operators to respect the commitments made to the State.

A challenge for the attractiveness and competitiveness of territories

For local authorities, digital development is a particularly important issue. Indeed, the deployment of FTTH contributes to the competitiveness and attractiveness of their territory.

Many research articles show that access to higher flows has a positive effect on growth by attracting businesses and populations, while reducing the migration of rural populations to urban centres.

Local authorities are thus integrating the deployment of FTTH into their territorial marketing strategy in order to be dynamic in order to attract new resources to their territory.

Opportunities offered by optical fibre for individuals

For individuals, the arrival of optical fibre to the home makes it possible to offer the best level of quality and reliability for each of the connected objects in the home.

Film lovers and series enthusiasts will be able to take full advantage of VOD services in 4k on several screens simultaneously thanks to increased download speed. Video game players will enjoy a very short ping (latency time) to optimize the experience. The arrival of optical fibre also makes it possible to support the increase in the number of connected objects related to home automation in homes.

Finally, an excellent connection also offers the prospect of teleworking for people who want to work regularly from home.

Opportunities offered by optical fibre for professionals

The deployment of HSBB networks represents important development challenges, both economic and social.

FttO, FttE and FttH Pro: what are the differences?

As part of the deployment of the shared optical local loop, companies made connectable can subscribe to two types of financially accessible offers, replacing their SDSL and ADSL pro copper offers:

FttE, for Fibre to the Enterprise, is an architecture linked to FttH and BLOM. The company benefits from a P2P link established by the operator. This solution is therefore destined to grow as FttH networks are deployed. This is an advantage over the Passive Optical Network (PON) architecture, usually implemented for FttH, which carries the traffic of several customers on the same fibre. The FttE solution has the advantage of a much lower cost than a Fiber to the Office (FttO) line, and should be sufficient for a large majority of companies.

The FttH Pro is a classic enhanced FttH offer with a customer service separate from the general public, as well as other specific services for professionals (fixed IP address for example). These offers could include "Recovery Time Guarantees", which will nevertheless be less effective than FttE access.

These two types of offers should not be confused with FttO, which is not linked to the deployment of FttH in France. FttO is a P2P architecture reserved for companies and deployed for about twenty years; we talk about Dedicated Optical Local Loop (DLOD). It connects each customer site to a point of presence of the operator via a dedicated optical fibre, with the possibility of a double connection when the service availability requirements require it. It is the highest end of the range and therefore the most expensive solution: the company pays for its connection and then a subscription. It is intended for companies that want to have an excellent quality of service, and for which the use of the Internet is extremely sensitive. These offers are generally accompanied by a Recovery Time Guarantee of 4 hours, 7 days a week, and 24 hours a day in the event of a problem.

Fibre for companies

For businesses and the economic world, HSBB networks and digital technology are an important factor in generating wealth by stimulating growth and innovation, as well as enhancing competitiveness in a globalized market.

Whether for self-employed people, start-ups, SMEs or large groups, in large cities or in smaller municipalities, the productivity gain offered by the HSBB is undeniable for all actors in economic life. It allows in particular:

  • To send and receive large files. Most activities today require the exchange of files, whether in the tertiary sector (e. g. architects, advertising, fixed or animated images, IT services, etc.), in industry (e. g. plans, manufacturing files, just-in-time orders, etc.) or in agriculture (e. g. multimedia platforms to bring farmers closer to distributors, consumers and catering companies),


  • Take advantage of recent advances in cloud storage. The Cloud allows companies not only to store all internal data (personnel, production monitoring, ERP) and customer files, but also to use business applications (payroll, accounting, CAD/CAM) without the need to install servers and software on their premises and to have dedicated staff. Some companies purchase so-called Business Resumption Plan (BRP) services which consist, in the event of a serious disaster at one of their sites, of offering the possibility for victim personnel to find their IT tools from new premises within a short period of time,


  • To abolish distances and avoid certain travel. The fibre network simplifies relations between geographically distant employees by allowing more systematic audio or videoconferencing, and even makes it possible to avoid certain trips that are costly financially or in terms of energy. The company's employees can also work from home (teleworking), under the same conditions as if they were in the office,


  • Enjoy an extensive professional media library. The development of new content download services (business videos, images, software and regular updates, etc.) online allows the company to have access to a large quantity of resources without using traditional physical media (e.g. CDs, DVDs, hard disks),


  • To be trained. The development of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), tutorials, and e-learning allows everyone in the company to train at their own pace to acquire new knowledge or deepen it, learn to use software, progress in their professional careers, etc.


Fibre for education, health and culture

A widespread use of fibre and therefore THD throughout France also opens up opportunities in all sectors of daily life.

At the educational level, schools will be able to use digital textbooks, tactile tablets and interactive tutoring.

In terms of health, the HSBB will promote access to care for all. It will allow better patient care, easier outreach for professionals and even remote medicine (teleconsultation).

At the cultural level, the HSBB can bring us closer to our historical and cultural heritage, with, for example, virtual visits to major museums or historical sites in High Definition (HD).

Tactis expertise

A leading consulting firm providing support to local authorities for the deployment of fibre optic networks, Tactis has a large number of references in France. Because of its neutrality and by resolutely supporting local authorities, the firm enjoys the trust of many public clients on digital development infrastructure projects.

First, Tactis produces master plans (SDTAN) for local authorities, making it possible to audit existing infrastructures and future opportunities in terms of the deployment of HSBB networks. To further develop these SDTANs, the firm can also assist the community in the context of engineering schemes for future FttH networks, making it possible to model the linear future of the Network and the cost of deployments. This step also allows the Authority to be assisted in its requests for public funding from the ERDF and the Digital Society Fund. Tactis has supported more than 25 local authorities in this process.

Subsequently, as a project management assistant (AMO), Tactis can be mandated to write the specifications and issue the rules for public consultation on the deployment of FttH networks in public initiative areas. Following the public consultation, Tactis was entrusted with the task of studying the bids received and drafting the Agreement between the future Delegate and the Authority, thus leading to the award of the contract.

Tactis is recognised as an expert in the setting up of public initiative networks from fibre to the subscriber. The firm has in fact set up a large number of projects on a national scale for a total of around 5 million FttH lines under the France THD Plan allocated or in the process of being allocated (47% of the lines of projects contracted under the France THD Plan, and 40% if we consider the total potential of lines in the RIP area of the territories concerned).

Once the contract has been awarded, Tactis supports the local authority throughout the construction and operation of the network to ensure that the contractor's actions comply with its commitments: this is called the monitoring of the Public Service Delegation. As such, we carry out various types of studies on behalf of the local authority: analysis of network design studies (APS, APD and DOE), audit, analysis of the Delegate's annual reports, benchmarks of the Network's tariffs and performance, strategic notes and assistance with the development of the Agreement between the local authority and the Delegate...

The challenges of deploying FttH networks are extremely important for local authorities, their attractiveness and their citizens. Tactis thus acts as a facilitator so that these complex projects can be implemented in order to achieve the FttH objective by 2025 at the latest, in accordance with the objectives of the European Commission.

External sources






Tactis - Directeur associé - Benjamin Fradelle- Aménagement numérique des territoires

Benjamin Fradelle

Associate Director
Since 2002, Benjamin Fradelle has been developing expertise in digital spatial planning, both in terms of defining the strategy of local authorities and in the technical and economic approaches associated with public initiative networks.

Contact Benjamin Fradelle

A question about FTTH networks? Need to remove doubts in view of a future project? Send an email to Benjamin Fradelle, Tactis Associate Director.

Tactis - Directeur associé - Benjamin Fradelle- Aménagement numérique des territoires

Benjamin Fradelle

Associate Director Tactis
Since 2002, Benjamin Fradelle has been developing expertise in digital spatial planning, both in terms of defining the strategy of local authorities and in the technical and economic approaches associated with public initiative networks.
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