Paris, 26th April 2013
On 26th April, the Expert Committee on Copper Systems - an independent committee whose members include France Telecom, network operators and equipment suppliers - voiced its approval for the introduction of VDSL2 into the France Telecom copper local loop.
Technology introduced into a singular environment in Europe
This opinion from the Committee marks the conclusion of a thorough investigative procedure that began in 2011. Its goal was to enable the use of VDSL2 in France, home to a singular DSL access environment in Europe, namely unbundling, and this without disrupting existing DSL technologies. A great many operators contributed to the various stages of the investigation (theoretical simulations, lab tests and trials on actual lines). Thanks to this extensive work, the Expert Committee was able to identify a technical compromise enabling faster VDSL2 throughput, albeit slower than the maximum theoretical speeds the technology can provide, due to a greater degree of cohabitation with other xDSL technologies.
Geographically limited availability
VDSL2 is a technology that can be applied to copper lines to achieve a significant increase in throughput compared to ADSL. However, because of the technology's inherent physical restrictions, performance gains achieved through VDSL2 are limited to copper lines shorter than 1 km. On longer lines, VDSL2 performances are equal to those reached by ADSL2+. In addition, for technical reasons, the investigation into introducing VDSL2 focused solely on "direct supply" lines and lines attached to exchanges that were part of a network overhaul (e.g. those lines affected by sub-loop unbundling schemes attached to France Telecom's PRM (Point de Raccordement Mutualisé) shared access point solution).
As the following table shows, the number of residential and office buildings that could benefit from a faster internet service thanks to VDSL2 represent around 16% of all lines in France, and most are located in areas where FttH will not be rolled out in the near future.
France Telecom's local loop exchanges gather lines of different length. Therefore, for each of the categories listed in the above table, the percentage of lines observed in a given exchange depends on the length scattering of the lines.
VDSL2 commercially available by autumn 2013 at the earliest
A complete trial launch has now begun across two departments: Dordogne and Gironde. This will enable third-party operators to test all of the processes of the wholesale solution available for using VDSL2: orders, delivery and fault identification.
Once this trial launch is complete, France Telecom will upgrade its wholesale solutions to include VDSL2. Once these new solutions are introduced, operators will have three months to prepare for the launch of VDSL2 in the rest of the country. Assuming no setbacks delaying the final stages needed to introduce VDSL2 occur, operators could begin to use the technology nationwide by autumn 2013 at the earliest. When VDSL2 solutions actually become commercially available will then depend on each operator's chosen strategy.
ARCEP will monitor VDSL2 introduction very closely and will make an assessment of its use and impacts a year after its introduction on a national scale.
The Expert Committee on Copper Systems opinion (pdf - 177 Ko) (pdf - in French only)
The video of Catherine Mancini's interview, chairwoman of expert committee on copper systems (in French only)