France Tel plans EU-wide 4G by 2015
France Telecom chief Stéphane Richard last night pledged to deploy 4G in all the telco’s European markets by 2015, and to roll out 3G in its Middle East and African markets within the same timeframe.
Richard made the commitment during a meeting with Neelie Kroes, the European Commission’s (EC) digital agenda commissioner, along with a host of other promises covering ultrafast communication, rich services and corporate responsibility.
Among the other pledges Richard made are a commitment to deploy fiber-to-the-home to 15 million French households and 80% of businesses in the country by 2020; offer cloud access to all companies in the European Union; deploy three million SIM-based NFC devices to European customers by end December; and deploy a data dashboard allowing customers to monitor the personal information they share with the telco by 2015.
The France Telecom chief also outlined his firm’s policy on net neutrality, stating the telco believes public access to the Web must remain open and that traffic management should only be applied to ensure “the effective function of the network,” rather than to any discriminatory end. Richard also reiterated a previous call for companies offering video and other services that increase asymmetric data traffic to contribute towards network costs.
However, when it comes to wholesale access prices, the telco is against further regulation on copper access, and predicts that mandating a shift to fiber networks will be counterproductive – eroding the return on investment necessary to stimulate further rollouts. “To encourage fibre investment, stability in copper prices and in the current national implementation of copper cost methodology are essential. Policies aimed at artificially moving customers to fibre networks are most likely to degrade the fibre business case,” it states.