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Chirac Loves FTTH

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Bill's Risible Blips
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6:00 AM -- Below is a translation of a recent article in the quite serious French newspaper Nouvel Observateur on the speech of French President Jacques Chirac at a New Years' reception in Elysée Palace.

The President announced his ambition and strategy to ensure that France will be "one of the most advanced nations in digital technology" and defined his "strategy." Next to digital HDTV, a cornerstone of this strategy is that in all of France fiber will be deployed.

A day before, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe had stated his ambition that FTTH will be deployed in all of Paris. Apparantly very high-speed Internet and FTTH are now above political debate in France, as the Paris Mayor belongs to the Parti Socialiste, which on national level is in opposition to the ruling party, to which Mr. Chirac belongs.

While this is an interesting development in terms of FTTH, it makes me nervous that it is rumored that Orange (NYSE: FTE) will be tasked with the deployment of the fiber, and it also sounds like another Minitel fiasco.

Two decades ago, France led the world in videotext with a similar national vision - while at the same time, some boffins in the U.S. were working on some obscure technology called the Internet. One technology was driven by politicians, the other was driven by grassroots users. Guess which technology won?

Thanks to Dirk van der Woude for this pointer. The original article is here. Translated excerpts follow:

Thursday French President Jacques Chirac stated his ambition to make France "one of the most advanced nations in digital technology" and defined his "strategy."

"We must be pioneers in the development of digital television and of technologies with very strong potential," he declared at the New Year speech at the Elysée. He thus wants "to develop a high capacity access to wireless Internet and to deploy TV on wireless as well as in high definition between now and mid 2007."

...Jacques Chirac also intends "to take up the world challenge of the American giants Google and Yahoo." "For that, we will launch the European search engine Quaéro," a search engine that wants to be "truly multimedia, i.e. integrating texts with sound and images."

In addition, the creation of a "European digital library" will make it possible "to make available online the cultural heritage of Europe."

— Bill St. Arnaud is Senior Director of Advanced Networks at Canarie Inc.

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