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Tuesday, 06 March 2012 11:12

French study fails to find uses for 'NBN' in the short term

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A Study of the French market for ultra fast broadband services has failed to identify any short term demand drivers and says that the widespread availability of today's services at reasonable cost will suppress demand. (Malcolm Turnbull will love this!)

The study was undertaken by Analysys Mason for six French Government bodies: the General directorate for competition, industry and services (DGCIS), the General directorate for media and cultural industries (DGMIC), the Electronic Communications and Postal Regulatory Authority (ARCEP), the French Broadcasting Authority (CSA), the HADOPI online copyright enforcement authority and the National Centre for cinematography and the moving image (CNC).

In a statement, ARCEP said: "The good quality of France's legacy copper network, combined with very affordable broadband products, have resulted in the development of one of the world's most competitive markets. In the short term, these assets could prove to be obstacles to the development of ultra-fast broadband. Especially worth noting is that users in France do not see any clear incentives to switch to a faster service.

"Despite the fact that UFB is technologically superior to broadband, at this point its advantages in terms of new services and applications appear rather limited, and the ultra-fast products currently marketed by providers offer very few additional services over existing high-end broadband products."

Where it did see a UFB has having application was in driving users' insatiable demand for data volumes, driven by the uptake of online video services.

"At a time when information and communication technologies are playing an increasing role in all sectors of the economy, and in people's daily lives, the advantages of UFB depend on chiefly on the scale of consumption...Ultra-fast broadband makes for easier consumption and enables the development of a number of existing services, including: over-the-top access to TV services through connected televisions; emerging formats such as ultra high definition and 3D, and those that are becoming ubiquitous (HD); - cloud computing services and applications."

The report did identify future applications similar to those identified in Australia but - at least in the English summary issued by ARCEP - gave no indication of when demand for these might emerge.

"Further down the road, new ubiquitous solutions will no doubt emerge in the consumer market and which take full advantage of UFB's performance: residential video calling, telemedicine and optimised care, telecommuting and teletraining, new educational services based on interactive digital tools, social computing, making use of pooled IT resources, etc," ARCEP said.

It concluded: "Given that there are currently very few services that are specific to UFB for which users are willing to pay, it is hard to get an accurate measure of the incremental revenue that will be generated by UFB, and which would make it possible to finance ultra-fast broadband networks. New business models are being created between content and access providers, and only the future will decide which ones are viable over the long term."

For French speakers the 150 page study is available here.

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