Bouygues Telecom joins France Tel fiber scheme

France Telecom today rounded out its domestic fiber rollout plans by adding Bouygues Telecom to its list of network partners.

The incumbent operator will offer Bouygues access to its fiber to the building networks in heavily populated areas, and has agreed wholesale cable access for less densely populated areas of France. The deal offers Bouygues access to 10.6 million homes in total.

A France Telecom statement called the agreement a “new milestone in the deployment of its networks and very high-speed broadband in France.” The telco penned similar deals with SFR and Iliad Group in the back half of 2011, as part of a goal to cover 15 million homes with fiber by 2020.

Separately, the operator is reportedly homing in on the sale of a second European division as part of a switch in focus to emerging markets. Hutchison Whampoa is in the frame to takeover Orange Austria in a deal that would value the cellco at €1.4 billion, Bloomberg reveals.

France Telecom holds 35% of the Austrian operator, with the remaining stake held by private equity firm Mid Europa Partners.

The sale would be France Telecom’s second in as many months, after it agreed to sell Orange Switzerland to Apax Partners for €1.6 billion in December.

Chunghwa allocates $3.3b for fiber

Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom will spend TW$100 billion ($3.34 billion) over the next three years on high-speed fiber.

Chunghwa will take the first steps on a what it calls a G-generation upgrade this year, commencing with a 1Gbps trial program, CENS reported.

The trial forms part of a planned 10-year, NT$200 investment in Chunghwa's fiber and mobile broadband networks.

Chunghwa currently covers around 80% of Taiwan’s population with a 50Mbps fiber network, and through the three-year upgrade aims to reach 80% with 100Mbps speeds by 2015.

But a recent survey from Taiwan’s Consumers’ Foundation purports to show that the island’s broadband speeds are well below the global average, the China Post reported.

The report singles out Chunghwa in particular, alleging that the company’s advertised 1Gbps wideband service is at best the equivalent of a 50Mbps service.

The average Taiwan connection grants 13Mbps download speeds, compared to the 37.5Mbps global average, the survey claims.

In response to the criticism, Chunghwa has claimed its planned fiber upgrade will enable its broadband service to surpass those offered in Japan within 10 years.

New broadband subscribers spike in 3Q11, says Broadband Forum

Service providers added more new broadband and IPTV subscribers in the third quarter of last year than at any time since early 2009, according to the Broadband Forum. The figures, supplied by market research and analysis firm Point Topic, also show significant gains in FTTH and FTTx.

The Broadband Forum says that approximately 17.4 million lines were added in 3Q11. The new subscriber brought the global total to 581.3 million, a quarterly increase of 3.08% and an annual growth rate of 12.89%.

“These are very healthy figures for Q3 and they demonstrate the ongoing strength of the broadband market,” commented Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum. “We are especially pleased to see the trend in fiber technologies beginning to take off. Our G-PON certification program, launched in Q3 and with first certifications already in place, has been very widely welcomed and this is an indication that the market is ready for much further growth in this area.”

The figures show xDSL remains the most deployed technology, adding more lines than any other in Q3. However, in percentage terms both FTTH and FTTx/hybrid technologies showed the largest growth with over 8% overall, compared to 2.2% for cable modems and 2% for DSL, the Broadband Forum reveals. FTTx added just under 19 million lines in Q3 2011, more than twice the number in the same period last year. Taken together, the market share for fiber technologies – now at 16% – is fast approaching cable’s 19.5%, according to the Forum.

Said Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic, “Hybrid FTTx will be where the action is over the next few years. Consumers are showing signs of being ready to pay for faster connections and the hybrid solution set is a cost-effective way of getting relatively high speeds to them.”

With a rise of almost 1.5% in the year, the proportion of broadband subscribers in Asia continues to increase. Results from other regions were more muted, although both Europe and the Middle East and Africa saw better numbers in Q3 than in the same period in 2010. The Americas also performed better in Q3 than Q2, with overall net additions in subscriber lines rising by 309,518.

Asia continues to dominate with over 10.3 million more subscriber lines added in the quarter, higher than in Q2 and the same quarter in 2010. With over 246 million lines in total, Asia now has 42.34% of the total market share in broadband.

IPTV subscribers grew by 6.06% in the third quarter of 2011 and now total 54.4 million globally, the Broadband Forum added.

Xfone Fiber Network Grows to Include Slaton, Texas

Xfone, Inc. (NYSE Amex and TASE: XFN) connected its first fiber customer in Slaton, Texas further expanding the Company’s new “PRIDE” fiber-to-the-premise Network.

Xfone’s ongoing fiber build out, when completed, is expected to reach 19 new communities bringing the total FTTP passings to approximately 50,000. The Company is funding the expansion of the fiber network using approximately $100 million in federal stimulus funding.

To date, Xfone has established its FTTP network in Lubbock, Levelland, Smyer, Wolfforth, Littlefield Burkburnett, Brownfield and Whitharral, Texas, providing customers in those communities access to voice, video and internet services using high speed broadband.

Mr. Guy Nissenson, Xfone’s President and CEO, commented, “We are making excellent progress establishing our state of the art fiber network in new communities and are pleased to have begun adding customers in Slaton. We continue to see excellent adoption rates as we bring our high speed triple play offering to new markets, as customers recognize the value and convenience of the high speed bandwidth we provide. Consumers are increasingly reliant on the internet; both in residential and business applications, and the speed and accessibility of our network meets their expectations. Construction of the PRIDE Network continues to move ahead and we look forward to bringing advanced broadband to more customers in the coming weeks”.