PARIS, December 11, 2006 - Cisco® announced today that Free (Iliad Group), the leading triple-play over broadband operator in Europe, is to roll out the first and largest optical fiber network in France based on the Cisco Internet Protocol Next Generation Network (IP NGN) architecture and using Cisco Ethernet fiber-to-the-home (E-FTTH) technology.
According to Free's plan, the first phase of the fiber project will connect more than 2 million people in the city of Paris via the largest fiber network in Europe. Free announced that residents will have access to broadband speeds that could exceed 50 megabits per second* for 29.99 euros per month, and benefit from advanced services such as high-definition IPTV, video on demand, multimedia communication and Web 2.0 services. The fiber network offers the potential of virtually unlimited symmetrical bandwidths, where upstream and downstream traffic can flow at the same speed, which is currently unique for mass-market broadband services.
Michaël Boukobza, chief executive officer of Free, said: "We are building a network of the future for our users and by working with Cisco, we can bring the future closer. With the ongoing debate about fiber access platforms, we have made a clear choice and decided on Ethernet point-to-point FTTH architecture because it is future proof and maximizes return on such an important infrastructure investment. Other options would not have set us so clearly apart from the competition. By taking fiber optic links directly to the home, we can be sure that France will continue to be at the forefront in technology and applications for the next few years, and even the next few decades!"
"Today's announcement demonstrates Free's commitment to continuously innovate and maintain its lead in the triple-play market," said Thierry Drilhon, managing director, Cisco France and vice president, Cisco Europe. "We have seen increasing interest in FTTH networks throughout Europe and this is an important endorsement for Cisco's IP NGN technology approach. With the Cisco ServiceFlex design and Ethernet point-to-point architecture, we have armed our new-generation E-FTTH solutions with more of the features that users require, including high bandwidth, high availability, high security and low latency, all backed up by performance assurance, especially when the subscriber's usage profile is difficult to predict in terms of bandwidth and 'burstiness'."
The passive optical fiber network that connects the central office or points of presence (PoPs) to the home is the highest-valued asset in new-generation networks. Cisco E-FTTH solutions protect the investment in the network's active layers by removing the need to install active components out in the field.
Free will deploy Cisco Catalyst® 4500 Series Switches as the E-FTTH access platform at its new optical PoPs with 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to its core network to make optimum use of the increased capacity provided by the Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing Systems.
Free is a subsidiary of Iliad. The Iliad Group is a major player in the Internet and telecommunications markets in France through its subsidiaries Free (the leading alternative broadband operator with 2,076,000 broadband subscribers as at 30/09/2006), Onetel and Iliad Telecom (fixed telephony operators) and Kertel (prepaid phone cards), as well as IFW (WiMax). The Iliad Group was established in 1991 and currently has more than 1 500 employees. The Iliad Group is listed on the Euronext Paris Eurolist under the mnemonic code ILD.