France to spend FF30bn on broadband for all push

Sod the market, govt intervention needed to make this thing work


France is set to commit itself to nation-wide broadband Net access by 2005, according to a Reuters report over the weekend.

It's estimated that wiring up the country would cost around FF30 billion (£3 billion).

However, the French Government realises that the private sector alone will not fork out for such an investment - especially in more rural areas.

That's part of the reason why the French Government is to make available FF10 billion (£1 billion) worth of cheap loans to help fund the investment.

The French Government's appears to have recognised that if it wants broadband to be universally available then it will have to intervene to help realise that goal.

In a telling statement a French Government spokesman told Reuters: "If we bowed to the logic of the market, in five years time a quarter of the French population and 70-80 percent of our land mass would not have access to high-speed links."

This is in sharp contrast to the position of the British Government, which, like its French counterpart, has also made 2005 its goal for broadband.

However, Downing Street believes it is up to the market to fund and drive forward the roll-out of this technology.

Government's role, it believes, is merely to give the process encouragement.

Instead of handing out cheap loans, the British Government hopes the lure of public sector spending in broadband will generate sufficient demand for companies to invest in expanding services across the country.

Time will tell. In September government advisors are set to report to their findings on kick-starting the broadband sector in Britain. ®

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