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T H E I N F O R M AT I O N T E C H N O L O GY & I N N O VAT I O N F O U N D AT I O N

Appendix B: France

Overview

ITIF Rank: 5

Subscribers per Household1

0.54

Internet Users in Millions2

30.1

Internet Users per 100 Inhabitants4

49.57

Average Speed in Megabits per Second (Mbps)5

17.6

Price Per Month of 1 Mbps USD PPP6

1.64

Percent of Urban Population7

76

Population Density per sq. km8

111

Incumbent Government Owned Local Loop Unbundling:3 Full Copper Loop Shared Copper Loop Bitstream Cable Fiber

32.5%

Yes Yes Yes No No

Geography and Demography

France is a large country with a varied terrain of plains, valleys, hills, and large mountain ranges in the South and East. The country is more densely populated than the United States, at 111 people per square kilometer compared to 31,9 but its percentage of urban population is not much less than in the United States (76 compared to 80 percent, respectively).10 Yet, France has the second highest population in Europe, with 60 million people, second only to Germany, with 82.6 million people.11

Policy

Initially, the French government did not focus on funding broadband infrastructure and services, either in rural or in urban areas. In fact, the government’s “e-Europe Plan 2005,” established in 2000, envisioned that the private

sector would take the lead role in broadband development.12

Yet, by 2001 the government realized that market

forces alone would not provide the level of broadband the government desired. Thus, the French government gave local authorities a greater role in the development of broadband infrastructure and mandated that the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC, a government-owned bank) should be able to provide loans at reduced rates to local municipalities for broadband development. Nonetheless, the government at first stipulated that in order to receive these loans municipalities had to ensure fair, transparent and non-discriminatory access to rights of way and, while they could establish broadband infrastructure, they could not act as telecommunications operators.13 In 2003, however, the French Parliament passed a law enabling local authorities to be telecommunications operators

as long as there were no other available broadband providers.14

Rural Access

Several local governments in France have used loans from the CDC to develop broadband infrastructure in areas where there were no existing broadband providers. These include the governments of Oise, Pyrénées

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