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New $3bn fibre business to fight rural digital exclusion

Infrastructure operator wants to give everyone in rural areas access to fibre while sharing the investment effort with its shareholders.

By João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

3 Mins

November 08, 2021 | 5:00 AM GMT

New $3bn fibre business to fight rural digital exclusion

Chairman of Orange Concessions, Jean-Germain Breton. Source: Orange

Orange (EPA: ORA) and a consortium of investors have launched a 50/50 joint venture (JV) to boost fibre connectivity for 4.5 million households across rural France.

Orange Concessions, valued at €2.675 billion (US$3.09 billion) and 50% owned by Orange and 50% owned by a consortium made up of La Banque des Territoires (Caisse des Dépôts), CNP Assurances and EDF Invest, comprises 24 Public Initiative Networks (PIN), under contract with local authorities, in Metropolitan France and overseas territories.

Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange said: “By 2025, 30% of FttH connections in rural areas of France will be operated by Orange Concessions. Over the past ten years, Orange has been the undisputed leader of this major infrastructure project in France.

“I am now delighted that long-term investors – recognised for their infrastructure expertise and their proximity to local authorities – have acquired a stake in Orange Concessions. Orange is more committed than ever to being the go-to partner for local authorities in their regional digital development projects.”

Orange Concessions supports local authorities with their region’s digital development by orchestrating the design, construction and management of PINs.

The new venture will be managed by Jean-Germain Breton, who has experience in managing public initiative telecoms networks and working alongside local authorities.

As the Chairman of Orange Concessions, Jean-Germain Breton will focus on developing the business and creating values for the company’s shareholders.

Orange Concessions will be supported by a team of over 100 staff, 60% of whom will be located in the regions, close to the local authorities.

Olivier Sichel, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Caisse des Dépôts and Managing Director of La Banque des Territoires said: “The target to reach 100% coverage by 2022 set-out in France’s Very High Speed Broadband plan requires the mobilisation of everyone.

“By investing in Orange Concessions alongside CNP Assurances and EDF Invest, La Banque des Territoires continues to fight against regional exclusion, of which the digital divide is one possible cause.”

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