‘No plans’ to restrict broadband consumption, say French operators

23 August 2011 | Guy Matthews


A federation representing France’s biggest telecoms service providers has moved to quell speculation about the ending of unlimited consumer access to fixed-line internet services.

Federation Francaise des Telecoms, which members includes France Telecom, Vivendi and Bouygues, has vowed that unlimited access to high-speed fixed-line internet is to continue, but left the door open for individual operators to offer tariffs that cap the usage of particularly heavy bandwidth users.

French website Owni, which campaigns on a number of technology-related issues, last week reported that it had seen a leaked document suggesting that the federation, with government approval, was considering an end to unlimited access, a move that could potentially make seismic changes to the dynamics of the French broadband sector.

French industry minister Eric Besson has backed the federation’s rejection of such a plan, saying the government is not considering, at the present moment, any restriction to internet access.

Bouygues Telecom has issued its own denial that subscribers to its Bbox fixed line service will face restrictions on its use.
 
“We wish to reassure all our customers that Bouygues Telecom has never had any intention of restricting the fixed line internet access of our Bbox offers,” said Bouygues CEO Olivier Roussat in a statement. “We are committed to providing the same internet experience to all, without any restrictions. The ongoing roll-out of very-high-speed internet, which our Bbox Fibre customers are already enjoying, boosts our confidence in the long-term future of this business model.”

Vivendi, which owns the SFR brand, has issued a similar statement, while France Telecom has referred all queries to the federation which it says speaks on behalf of all major French operators.

Several of the country’s smaller operators do not belong to the federation, and so are not likely to feel bound by any of its guarantees, particularly those that favour big players, point out market watchers.

The federation’s figures show that between 5% and 10% of French fixed-line service consumers use up to around 80% of all bandwidth.