Vodafone and Orange are joining forces in Spain and investing EUR1 billion in rolling out a fibre-to-the-home network.
The aim is to reach 800,000 households and workplaces by March 2014, extending to six million by September 2017. That would give a household penetration rate of around 40 per cent.
Much to the frustration of Vodafone and Orange, gaining wholesale access to Telefonica’s fibre-optic network – and replicating the fixed-mobile bundles offered by the incumbent – has proven difficult.
Speaking to El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, an Orange spokesperson said it can take a year to reach an agreement with Telefonica in order to gain access in flats. Both Vodafone and Orange complain that CMT – the national telecoms regulator – has not been pro-active enough in preventing Telefonica from abusing its dominant position.
By rolling out their own fibre-optic network, Vodafone and Orange hope to catch up their main rival, which, according to EL Pais, has already rolled out fibre access to two million homes.
The urgency of Vodafone and Orange is understandable. Telefonica’s Movistar Fusion service, which offers a bundled package of mobile and fixed services for a fixed monthly fee – and which can include a 100Mps connection for households passed with fibre – has proven enormously popular. In the three months since its September launch, Movistar Fusion racked up one million subscribers.
Vodafone and Orange say they will launch commercial fibre-to-the-home services in January 2014.