The Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) has announced that its independent Committee of Experts, as appointed by Decision 2012-1294 (October 2012) to evaluate the introduction of next generation access (NGA) technologies on Orange France’s copper local loop, has authorised the introduction of VDSL2 technology on all lines emanating from one of the telco’s cabinets.
The introduction of VDSL2 will allow a significant increase in downlink speeds, when compared to ADSL. However, due to equipment’s inherent physical limitations, the performance gain of VDSL2 is limited to copper lines whose length does not exceed 1km. According to a previous Arcep decision, issued on 26 April 2013, the investigation into introducing VDSL2 focused solely on ‘direct supply’ lines and lines attached to exchanges that were part of a network overhaul; Arcep estimated that around 2.7 million lines were eligible to benefit from superfast access via VDSL2, with the April 2013 decision to introduce VDSL2 to direct distribution lines and re-engineered cabinets affecting a total of 8.7% of the population.
Under the new decision, the Committee of Experts has extended the authorised perimeter of use for VDSL2 to indirect distribution lines (23.3 million) and ultimately, all of the lines running from an exchange on the Orange copper local loop (30.8 million). However, the impact on the number of additional lines eligible will likely be smaller than the impact observed when VDSL2 was first introduced on 1 October 2013 – as indirect distribution lines are, on average, longer than direct distribution ones. Arcep said that the new decision to introduce VDSL2 to all lines emanating from an exchange/cabinet will affect 14.5% of all lines. Incumbent operator Orange now has one month to include VDSL2 in its wholesale offers, and alternative operators have three months to prepare for the launch of VDSL2 elsewhere in the country, with a nationwide launch set for the autumn of 2014.