This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 8/3/2017


  • Overview
 2014201520162017 (Estimated)
Total Local Production66,27066,75267,332*68,140*
Total Exports32,23032,40732,355*32,549*
Total Imports44,58045,07845,257*45,687
Imports from the US
Total Market Size78,62079,42380,234*81,278*
Exchange Rate 1 EuroUSD 1.320USD1.109USD 1.107USD 1.063
(total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
(Figures in USD millions; * indicates unofficial estimates.
Year to year figures adjusted for varying exchange rate.)
Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)
The Market place for Telecommunications
The most prominent industries in the French telecommunications market are mobile telephone and wireline industries. Both the mobile and wireline sectors are made up by large, competitive, and innovative firms with developed product offerings. The French mobile market is one of the top performing in Western Europe. Per the World Bank, there were approximately 73 million mobile subscriptions in France in 2016. Mobile subscriptions recorded a 1.2% growth rate between 2015 and 2016.The number of users of 4G networks grew in one year by nearly 10 million to 31.9 million by 31 December 2016. At the end of 2016, nearly three out of four SIM cards have been active on 3G networks.   France has the third largest broadband subscriber base in Europe. Growth has been bolstered by demand for high bandwidth applications, which has prompted considerable investment in fiber infrastructure among telcos and regional governments. The French regulator has promoted access to Orange’s DSL and fiber networks for new entrants. In early 2017 the regulatory body considered a range of measures to improve access to Orange’s networks.
DSL remains the prominent form of broadband connection in France though it is currently on the decline as other faster connections (i.e. fiber optic cable) become increasingly popular. Fiber deployments have grown substantially in recent years, with all the major ISPs concentrating their investments in fiber with a view to promoting 1 GB/s services. Although the cable footprint only reaches about 40% of the population SFR Group has upgraded its network to compete with DSL and has itself entered the DSL and fiber markets. Lowering costs and increased connectivity will stimulate further growth in the fiber market. Fiber optic implementation is largely left to the discretion of the private sector with most implementation being spearheaded by Numericable-SFR, Orange, and Free-Iliad. By September 2016 SFR had 1.97 million customers served by its fiber.
Free Mobile’s entrance into the French market has had a lasting effect on France’s competitive landscape, boosting competition amongst the top telecommunications companies. Since its entry into the market Free has boosted its subscriber base to more than 12 million and made 1.7 billion dollars in revenues over that first three quarters of 2016. In the first quarter of 2017 Free reported 6.3 million 4G subscribers. Four French providers make up the French mobile market: Orange with a 35.1% market share, Numericable-SFR with a 21.4% market share, Bouygues with a 16.2% market share, Iliad (Free) with a 17.3% market share. These four major mobile phone providers represent 91% of the mobile phone market in France. However, several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) also operate in France, and collectively they represent just over 9% of the market.
 Leading Sub-Sectors
Mobile and broadband services will remain a vibrant market in France. Significant investment opportunities exist for leading and innovative firms in the French market. Such opportunities exist in the continued implementation of various standards and technologies, such as LTE, Fiber optic cabling, and the upcoming introduction of 5G to the French market. Innovative technologies in the process of development will also catalyze new market possibilities with the Internet of Things (IOT) playing an important role in the telecommunications market. IOT’s implementation marks a massive increase in interconnected and communicating devices. Subsequently this will drive a huge demand for increased broadband capabilities to keep up with IOT’s usage.
  • Opportunities
Strong performance in mobile telephony has driven a steep decline in fixed line connections in France despite moderate growth in broadband voice and digital telephony over cable television. With 28.5 million broadband subscriptions and a 44.3% market penetration rate, broadband subscriptions are expected to increase in the near future In 2016 Orange implemented VDSL2 upgrades for its subscribers. However, fiber optic offers the most promising market future as increased rollouts and lower prices will catalyze market growth.
In recent years, certain events have served to redefine the competitive landscape in France’s market, such as the foreign acquisition of a major French firm, telecommunication equipment giant Alcatel-Lucent, by Nokia. Nokia is now collaborating with Orange on the development of services that will allow industries and consumers to take advantage of the unprecedented efficiencies and business models.   The IOT market in France is attracting attention and investment. Large scale investments, such as a 115 million USD investment in French IOT startup Sigfox, are becoming increasingly common. The IOT continues to thrive through the growth of machine to machine (M2M) sim card subscriptions, the primary means of communication between objects in the IOT. In France, M2M has experienced an annual growth of +1.2 million M2M SIM card subscriptions compared to 31 December 2015, however, is still impacted by the decline in the number of cards registered in the market in the first quarter of 2016. There are currently over 11.7 million M2M SIMs in France. More importantly, major players in the French telecom market are shifting their focus over to IOT. Even Orange formed a new IT division with the specific focus on machine to machine technology.  US companies looking to invest in the French telecommunications market should find ample opportunity in this constantly evolving economy.
  • Web Resources
Regulation Authority for Electronic and Postal Communication (ARCEP)
French National Frequency Agency (ANF)
Association of Internet Access and Service Providers (AFA)
European Telecommunications standards Institute (ETSI)
Fédération Française des Télécoms
French Association of Mobile Operators (AFOM)
Europe Market Analysis and Consulting Firms in the Telecom, Internet and Media Industries (IDATE)
  • Contact:

U.S. Embassy - U.S. Commercial Service Commercial Specialist:
Phone: +33 (0)1 43 12 70 90

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

France Information and Communication Technology Trade Development and Promotion