French govt offers €2b in broadband loans


The French government has introduced a €2 billion national broadband loan program to boost the economy through investment in infrastructure.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced details of the scheme, which involves low-interest loans made to telecomm aimed at encouraging fiber buildouts outside major cities, the WSJ reported.
The announcement is part of a wider national loan program totaling €35 billion, which includes €4.5 billion earmarked for information and communications projects.
"We are at the dawn of the era of high-speed Internet and fiber-optic networks. However, 500,000 French people don't have access to high speed Internet at all. This is not acceptable,” Fillon said.
French carriers have been slow to build and invest in high-speed internet connections in smaller cities and rural areas due to a lack of perceived ROI.
Under the government’s plan rival carriers such as France Telecom, Iliad and Vivendi will be encouraged to invest together to build out local fiber networks.
The move is intended to ensure the monopoly pockets do not emerge. Currently the three French operators are carrying out experiments in three towns around Paris to test how they would share access to fiber networks.