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France Plans 20-Billion Euro National Broadband Plan 178

Posted by timothy
from the such-munificence-with-tax-money dept.
judgecorp writes "France is planning a €20 billion programme to get super-fast broadband to its rural population. About half the funds will come from government investment, and President Hollande believes the work will create 10,000 jobs. Half the population should have fast broadband in the next five years, and the whole country in ten years. France is at a disadvantage for broadband as it is a large country with a lot of rural areas. However, it also has a more left-leaning government willing to take on infrastructure projects."
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France Plans 20-Billion Euro National Broadband Plan

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  • Editors.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:00AM (#42988115)
    Hollande!
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:01AM (#42988123) Journal

    You call that a large country with a lot of rural areas? Now this [wikipedia.org] is a large country with a lot of rural areas!

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You call that a large country with a lot of rural areas? Now this [wikipedia.org] is a large country with a lot of rural areas!

      Sorry to nit pick, but much of Australia's enormous land mass is classified as *remote* rather than *rural*.

      I don't imagine there's much in the way of "remote" areas in France (and yes, Australia is much larger than France), so your point stands.

      But somehow I doubt that the proportion of "rural" land in Australia is higher than it is in France.

    • Yup, and I'm waiting for the NBN detractors to jump on and start complaining about "Just because France/Korea/etc do it, why should we?"
      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:33AM (#42988215) Journal

        It's more like the French are doing it because Australia is doing it.

        It's cute the way they appreciate and imitate our Aussie culture and style. And they almost get it right, but there's a certain je ne sais quoi they never seem to manage. I'm not sure what it is though.

        • by Pieroxy (222434)

          It's more like the French are doing it because Australia is doing it.

          It's cute the way they appreciate and imitate our Aussie culture and style. And they almost get it right, but there's a certain je ne sais quoi they never seem to manage. I'm not sure what it is though.

          What we do is the following: Look up for ideas around, take the best ones, add the "French touch", fail miserably.

          This works (or fail if you prefer) all the time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Rather imitate the Aussie's than the U.S. The isp's there got tens of billions for the exact same thing and simply pocketed the cash and did nothing.

      • by HJED (1304957)
        Yep, one of the few reasons that I'll be voting for the government over the coalition in September (second last and last on the ballot). Although I doubt they'll win, hopefully the pirate party will get its act together before than or Tony Abbot loses the Liberal leadership (unlikley).
    • Nah, not really (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Australia is a large country with a lot of nothing. There are like 4 city centres where most people live, a bit of rural population, and then a whole bunch of empty nothing. Not surprising, given the climate and geography really.

      The US is probably one of the most rural nations over all. Lots of big cities too, of course, but a substantial amount of population that is spread out over a substantial amount of land.

    • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:42AM (#42988245) Homepage

      You call that a large country with a lot of rural areas?

      By European standards, France is a large country (roughly 1000km across), with some rather sparsely populated areas [wikipedia.org] (the Northern Alps and the Massif Central). France also has a strong tradition of massive, nation-wide infrastructure projects (we've had a comprehensive high-speed train network [wikipedia.org] since the 1980s), so a nation-wide broadband infrastructure is a natural thing to do.

      Now this [wikipedia.org] is a large country with a lot of rural areas!

      That thing is continent-sized, not country-sized.

    • by cycler (31440)

      Well, I think the poster thought "a large country in Europe".

      But, if you want large countries (in Europe) that are very rural, look at the Nordic countries. The population density in France is 117/km^2 whereas in Norway, Finland and Sweden it is 16, 18 and 23 respectively. In terms of area, Sweden is the third largest country in Europe with just Spain in front.

      Now get of my lawn! ;)

      /C

      • by aliquis (678370)

        Sweden would likely have about 18-20 without all the immigrants to ;)

        I think I read 85% of the people in Sweden leave in .. whatever.. cities.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Is there anything that can't be turned into a dick measuring contest?

      PS. I know you are joking, no need for a "whoosh".

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Scandinavia and south korea wish them their best.

      Also: HAHA!

  • Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rts008 (812749) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:01AM (#42988125) Journal

    I hope this works out for them, but I'm not holding my breath...

    If your nations economy can support this, then why not?

    • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by locater16 (2326718) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:50AM (#42988263)
      Because... France's economy can't support it, France has a huge public debt and far too much of it's GDP is spent by the government, with it's ultra restrictive labor practices fiber optics everywhere still aren't going to attract startups like Kansas city and Google Fiber, and large government projects such as this usually end costing far too much for what is paid for. Just for starters.
      • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @08:05AM (#42988515) Homepage

        There is nothing wrong with the government providing a lot of employment and spending a lot. Plenty of successful countries that have avoided the global recession do.

        In fact this is exactly what they need now: growth. A recession is caused by a reduction in spending due to lack of confidence. Companies don't get orders, don't sell things, so they in turn don't buy stuff from other companies and so on. The government can counter that by creating big contracts.

        That is how you get out of a recession. The government spends its way out, and then when times are good again cuts back and reduced the deficit it built up. Over the channel in the UK our government is doing the opposite, cutting back on everything and delaying the recovery as much as possible. They want to drive down wages, cut employment rights and get rid of aspects of the government that could be turned into profit generating businesses. It is exactly what happened during Japan's lost decade, only ours is already projected to last at least 11 years.

        France has the right idea. Government debt is not like household or credit card debt, you can't solve it by cutting spending before the economy is fixed.

        • by Tomster (5075)

          Politicians and bureaucrats throwing money at a perceived problem or personal desire does not make for a well-run economy. Government spending distorts pricing and profit/loss signals for products and services. As a more egregious example, consider Mayor Bloomberg's recent proposal to install thousands of electronic charging stations in New York. Where is the need for them? Nonexistent. Or try the subsidies to the sugar growers. I could go on forever....

          Then look at all the waste endemic to government spend

          • Wait what!? Stop that! You're making too much sense!

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Government spending distorts pricing and profit/loss signals for products and services.

            You say that like it's a bad thing. Driving down the cost of healthcare by providing a high quality state funded service is a fantastic idea, unless you happen to be someone who wants to get rich off other people's suffering.

            Government has no competition and it has a captive "customer base"

            The "customer base" can vote them out every few years. The government is in competition with other political parties and with the private sector which is of course free to provide alternative services.

            A recession is caused when -- across the economy in general -- prices are higher than what people are willing to pay for them.

            That is a symptom, not the cause. After 2008 people decided they were unwilling to continue to pay the prices on offer because they no longer had a job or because they had no confidence that they would have one in 6 or 12 months time. You don't buy luxury goods or expand your company if you think your income is about to dry up.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          That is how you get out of a recession. The government spends its way out, and then when times are good again cuts back and reduced the deficit it built up.

          Yes, but the reality is that many countries didn't cut back so their credit limits were already fairly stretched when you go into recession. When investors start to question your ability to pay your debts and wonder if you're about to enter a credit death spiral the risk premiums go insane and far exceed any real return on investment you could make. If you overextend yourself the interest rates raise tenfold like Greece experienced, you can't borrow your way out of the problems when your borrowing is the ca

    • by houghi (78078)

      I think this is better then to give the companies a lot of money and assume they will do it, like they did in the USofA.

      And giving that money directly to the companies: If your nations economy can support this, then why not? Oh wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How on earth does "willing to take on infrastructure projects" mean left-leaning?

    I have a suggestion - since "left wing" vs "right wing" means different things in different places we should not use them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:17AM (#42988171)

    Why does the President of Holland need to get involved? Surely the responsibility for a national broadband network should fall to the President of France?

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      Oh man, my brain immediately starts to think of about 100 jokes that involve the %$#@! global Dutch KPN Telecom, but then the %$#@!%$#@! huge-ass mega-global France Telecom monstrosity kills off each and every one.

  • I don't know where the claim of 10,000 jobs created came from. Perhaps it was just the overactive imagination of the submitter. But given that the figure is 2 million euro per alleged job created which is a ridiculous figure should job creation have been any sort of priority, it seems incredibly stupid to try to make that a selling point of the scheme.

    Consider for example, the global flood that is the main point of drama in the classic story of Noah's Ark. It kills almost everyone and everything; it cle
    • by unixisc (2429386)
      I too didn't get this - how does providing free broadband nationwide in any country increase jobs? Yeah, if it encourages more businesses to come in, then maybe, but there are other factors that would make employers consider whether they want to set up shop in that place or not. Such as the work culture, which was discussed a few days ago here on /.
      • by jkflying (2190798)

        I think they mean the construction project will support 10,000 jobs.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Think about the "2 million euro per alleged job":
      France has to 'make' the optical cable, test it, deploy the mobile test equipment, the existing ducts have to be cleaned out, new larger pits may have to be created/expanded, vans, trucks have to be used to move trained teams around France.
      For all the unique telco skill sets you have a few extra jobs that add up and spend in small communities and big cities as they move around France and upgrade.
      Add in backhaul needs, the exchange upgrades, back up power,
      • For a certain definition of "running" when it comes to the copper network I'd say.

      • by khallow (566160)
        So that's what the "NBN" is. As to the rest of your post, it's fairy tale material. I wasn't commenting on nor do I care how France plans to spend its money. I just pointed out the silliness of spending vast amounts of money and then bothering to add as a selling point that it creates a minuscule number of jobs.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      Job creation is just one facet of the benefits this project brings. 10,000 jobs is nothing to laugh at - it will help thousands of families, and at the end the infrastructure of the country will be vastly improved.
      • by khallow (566160)

        10,000 jobs is nothing to laugh at

        I already explained why it can be. 2 million euro is getting spent per alleged job created. You're probably looking at 50 or so jobs (today or some point in the future) ended for each of those jobs created. That's why it's such an awful selling point.

        The infrastructure improvement is the obvious good here. I don't disagree with that. My point as described with my "Great Flood" example, is that stating the number of jobs created has gone to embarrassing places.

  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Saturday February 23, 2013 @06:40AM (#42988339)

    Make that 12.

    As we learned recently, French workers work only 3 hours a day of the 7 they should.

  • by Archon-X (264195) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @07:40AM (#42988457)

    .. I'd love it if they finished rolling out fiber-optic in Paris first.. Depending which arondissement you're in, the only option is super-saturated ADSL (800k/s down, 70k/s up) - or cable, which is even worse..

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      I live in the Paris suburbs, I'm happy when I can get 400kB/s down

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I live in Nancy and get 15-20 Mbps down and 1.5 mbps up consistently (Free). Numericable has 100mbps here (though you don't get that, and they throttle torrents unlike Free). Sucks to be you.
  • Australia seems to think they can convert to an almost entirely fibre network for roughly the same amount of money,....... something doesn't add up here.

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=france%20australia%20landmass [wolframalpha.com]

    • by jkflying (2190798)

      http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=population+of+france+vs+australia [wolframalpha.com]

      Perhaps having 3x the number of people will make up for that? That means Aus only has 1/3 of the fibre to run, even if they are each, on average, longer.

      • http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=population+of+france+vs+australia [wolframalpha.com]

        Perhaps having 3x the number of people will make up for that? That means Aus only has 1/3 of the fibre to run, even if they are each, on average, longer.

        Population density I imagine. The big cost is labor - the more density you have, the more you get done while paying the workmen in the street pretty much the same amount of money.

        Last I remember the plan to do apartment buildings in a lot of places is to simply co-opt the existing telephone copper in the walls and use it for 100mbit ethernet and run a few fiber trunks into the basement.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        They will ignore the outliers as always, but serve 99% of everyone cheaply, because 99% of everyone is clumped up in a few population centers

  • Or at least the west. Otherwise, China will dump on you and work to destroy your industry.
  • France is at a disadvantage for broadband as it is a large country with a lot of rural areas

    The European territory of France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi). France is smaller than New Mexico and Colorado combined. It is not a "large" country and has a population density (116/sq km) comparable to PA (110/sqkm) or OH (109 /sqkm), not NM (7) or CO(19).

    But in a socialist utopia like France, any excuse for a government boondoggle is a good one.

  • Universal access is damnably expensive but a lot can be done on the cheap. Like hooking up the highest density areas first and requiring all new construction to have fiber. Better something than nothing.
  • by drwho (4190)

    broadband minitel! the government is here to save you! QSD!

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