Summary of our market study

The global fiber optics market is experiencing substantial growth, with a projection to ascend from $8.8 billion in 2022 to $14.9 billion by end of 2024, signifying an average annual growth rate of 6.9%. This surge is attributed to the escalating demand for high-speed broadband fueled by teleworking and other bandwidth-intensive online activities. French manufacturers contribute significantly, with a substantial market share, marking France as Europe's leading producer of fiber optic cables. Despite the pandemic-induced suspension in fiber deployment activities and the emergence of technological competition from 5G networks, the French market trends show a persistent expansion in fiber optic network demand.

The Asia-Pacific region leads the demand with a revenue share of 28.8% in 2022, whereas the US has laid approximately 91.9 million kilometers of fiber optic cables. Industry leaders such as Amphenol Corporation continue to innovate to address O&M and ODN construction costs, while government initiatives like India's merger of BSNL and BBNL to extend the fiber optic network further catalyze the market growth.

Demand Trends and Dynamics in the French Fiber Optics Market

The French market for fiber optics reflects a robust trajectory of growth and transformation, underpinned by substantial technological advancements and strategic government initiatives. In recent years, the deployment of fiber optics, a leading technology for high-speed internet access, has been a high priority in France, leveraging its unmatched data rates that undermine alternative technologies like ADSL and satellite. The government's France Très Haut Débit plan aimed at achieving nationwide fiber connectivity by 2022 has been a significant catalyst in this expansion. By 2021, according to ARCEP, the number of fiber optic lines surged to nearly 30 million— a clear indication of the demand for ultra-high-speed broadband, especially as the pandemic underscored the importance of reliable internet connectivity. French manufacturers have carved out a significant niche, establishing themselves as Europe's premier specialists in fiber optic cable production.

The four leading French ISPs—Orange, SFR, Free, and Bouygues—have seized the deployment opportunities, with Orange offering the most extensive coverage, servicing between 25,000 and 26,000 towns. Despite these positive trends, there are challenges that cannot be overlooked. The French industry grapples with the threat of Chinese competition and concerns over production capacity to meet the ambitious goals of the France THD plan. Additionally, the emergence of 5G technology presents a competitive dynamic, although its market coexistence with fiber optics is likely due to differing applications and use cases.

The French fiber optics market is not just insular but enjoys a solid presence in international trade. The country reported exports of fiber optic cables worth between 480 and 500 million euros in 2022, marginally exceeding its imports valued between 460 and 470 million euros, thus achieving a coverage rate of over 100 percent. With Romania, the Netherlands, and China as key suppliers, this trade paints France as a potentially leading European player amidst global competition.

Looking within, France has recorded a remarkable upswing in fiber optic deployment, with 68% of premises eligible for very high-speed access via optical fiber by the end of 2021. The regional distribution and accessibility of fiber optics reveal a strong commitment to both urban and rural connectivity, although the actualization of 100% coverage by 2025 remains a formidable challenge. Industry and market metrics suggest a demand from both the public institutions, captained by the France Très Haut Débit plan, and a growing consumer.

Key Players Commanding the Fiber Optics Landscape

Navigating the dynamic world of fiber optics, several key players have established a stronghold within the French market, contributing to an evolving digital landscape. Their competitive offerings and technological advancements have played a significant role in shaping the high-speed connectivity of today. Here is an overview of the entities that are pushing the boundaries of fiber optic technology.

  • Orange: A Pioneering Force in Connectivity -  Orange emerges as a pioneer in the fiber optics sphere, setting the bar high with its commitment to widespread deployment. Known for its comprehensive coverage, Orange holds an edge with its substantial presence, offering fiber access in a staggering 25,773 towns. Their "Livebox" offer provides a testament to the company’s dedication to delivering reliable and rapid internet solutions. Furthermore, Orange underscores its customer-centric approach with an optional "expert installation," ensuring seamless integration of high-speed connectivity in homes.

  • SFR: Diverse Options for Tailored Needs - SFR stands resilient with flexible options that cater to diverse consumer requirements. From the basic SFR Fiber offer to the entertainment-centric SFR Netflix package, customers have the luxury to choose based on their specific needs. Though installation costs may vary depending on the nature of connection (underground or aerial), SFR aims to stay adaptable in the ever-evolving landscape of fiber optic deployment.

  • Free: Innovating with Unmatched Speeds - In the race to offer transformative internet experiences, Free is an innovator, offering breakneck internet speeds that redefine the meaning of "fast." With its Freebox Revolution and Freebox Pop plans, users can dive into an immersive digital realm of up to 5 Gb/s, testing the limits of what residential broadband can achieve. Crucially, Free has distinguished itself by waiving fiber connection fees entirely for single-family homes, a move that exemplifies the company's dedication to making cutting-edge technology both accessible and affordable.

  • Bouygues Telecom: The Hidden Challenger - While not as elaborated upon in the provided text, Bouygues Telecom is implicit as a notable competitor in the French market. With its approach centered around customer value and service efficiency, Bouygues pursues its own route in the market, positioning itself as a viable option for users seeking reliable high-speed fiber internet.

Each of these frontrunners, with their distinctive propositions, steers the market towards an interconnected future through an intricate web of fiber optics. They are not simply service providers but architects of a digital infrastructure that promises to transform everyday life.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1. Market overview and definition

Fiber optics, a technology that has long been mastered, notably in undersea telecoms cables, is becoming the main technology for Internet access. It enables data rates unmatched by other technologies currently on the market (ADSL, satellite), both in transmission and reception.

Setting up fiber optics requires heavy initial investment. To make this technology available to as many people as possible, fiber-optic cables have to be laid to every home and house likely to need them. To this end, the French government has established several guidelines as part of its France Très Haut Débit plan, which is supposed to connect the entire country to fiber by 2022.

The fiber optics market is undeniably a fast-growing sector: in 2016 ARCEP reported 8.3 million lines giving access to fiber optics, and by 2021 this number had risen to 29.7 million. [ARCEP] With a significant market share, French manufacturers are Europe's leading specialists in the production of fiber optic cables. On the ISP side, the four major French operators have seized this opportunity and are sharing fiber deployment more or less equally, mainly in the final kilometers of deployment (home connections). some towns are connected by several ISPs, but Orange remains the provider with the most extensive coverage, providing fiber to 25,773 towns [Ariase]

There are nevertheless a number of limiting factors, such as the threat to the French industry from Chinese competition, the risk of a lack of production capacity for the France THD plan, and technological competition linked to the advent of 5G.

In addition, fiber deployment activities have been suspended due to the health crisis, and the strong growth seen since 2018 has levelled off. At the same time, telecoms networks have had to cope with an unprecedented increase in data traffic, leading to transmission slowdowns. As a result, demand for ultra-high-speed broadband has risen sharply, with containment confirming French interest in this type of Internet connection.

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Size of the fiber optics market
  • Growth in the number of connectable fiber optic lines
  • Foreign trade in fiber optic cables
  • Main countries supplying fiber optic cables
  • Breakdown of premises eligible for BHD and THD by technology
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Latest news

Fiber: Orange no longer wants to buy TDF's billion-dollar networks - 22/01/2024
  • TDF's owners are seeking at least 1.5 billion euros for their fiber networks.
  • TDF owns a fiber network of 750,000 outlets in six départements, representing around 7% of its sales in 2022.
  • Orange currently owns the largest fiber network in France.
  • Orange Concessions, 50%-owned by Caisse des Dépôts, CNP Assurances and EDF Invest, has a significant footprint with 24 networks.
  • 200 people are responsible for maintaining TDF networks.
  • Anglo-Saxon infrastructure funds are among the potential buyers, including the Igneo fund, which is already a co-shareholder in a 10,000 km fiber network in Germany, and DIF Capital Partners, which already co-owns fiber networks in Ardèche and Drôme.
Draka Comteq, a Prysmian subsidiary, closes its Calais site - 25/11/2023
  • The Draka Comteq plant in Calais employs 82 people.
  • The closure of the plant was announced on November 20.
  • The plant's activity has decreased by 20% per year since 2022.
  • Another Prysmian entity in Douvrin (Pas-de-Calais) employs over 350 people.
  • The Prysmian group has over 50 countries, 112 operating sites and 29,000 employees.
  • Prysmian Group sales exceed 11 billion euros.
Orange fined 26 million euros - 09/11/2023
  • Fine imposed on Orange by Arcep: 26 million euros
  • Orange commitment in 2018: Fiber optic coverage of 3,000 communes in less densely populated areas of the country
  • Target connection rate for 2022: 100%
  • According to Arcep, at the beginning of 2022, Orange had only achieved 88% of its coverage target.
  • Number of premises not connected according to Orange: Approximately 540,000.
  • Orange's new commitments: 96% coverage of major cities and 98.5% coverage of medium-sized towns, at a total cost of several hundred million euros.
Fiber-optic light transmission enhanced by Fluoride Glass. - 27/10/2023
  • Light transmission with a "conventional" lens is around 15%.
  • With this innovative technology, only 20% of the signal from the light source is lost.
  • The global spectrometry market is growing by 7% a year.
  • The new lenses, called MicroCurved, are 40% less expensive than "conventional" lenses.
  • The SME hopes to sell "a few hundred" fibers a year until 2025, then "several thousand".
Netalis builds its digital highway from Besançon to Strasbourg - 28/09/2023
  • Number of Netalis business customers: 500
  • Number of Netalis employees: 28
  • Netalis sales: nearly 5 million euros
Telecom operator Celeste acquires Everko | Celeste acquires Everko - 25/09/2023
  • Celeste, founded in 2001, has a network of 12,000 km of optical fiber.
  • By 2022, Celeste has achieved sales of 123 million euros, compared with 80 million in 2021.
  • The company employs 600 people. Celeste has made nine acquisitions in four years.
  • The company has fifteen regional branches.
  • It has a customer portfolio of 20,000 companies.
  • Everko was created in 2014 and brings Celeste 2 million euros in sales and twelve employees.
  • The InfraVia fund acquired a 75% stake in 2019.
  • In 2021, Celeste has arranged bank financing of €260 million.
  • It owns three data centers.
  • Celeste invests thirty million euros a year.
  • The company is aiming for sales of 200 million euros within three years.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Prysmian Group
Acome
Silec Cable (groupe Prysmian)
Orange Groupe
SFR Business
Bouygues Groupe
Free (Iliad)
Covage (Altitude groupe)
Altitude Infra
Axione
Jenoptec
Nordnet (Orange Groupe)

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