WSJ.com - How France Became A Leader in Offering Faster Broadband: "For years, France's telecommunications industry was a state-owned monopoly with one of the world's most backward broadband markets. But thanks to deregulation six years ago, French consumers have access to high-speed Internet service that is much faster and cheaper than in the U.S.
One telecom company in particular has exploited the changes and created competition in France -- a start-up called Iliad. Over 1.1 million French subscribers pay as low as €29.99 ($36) monthly for a 'triple play' package called Free that includes 81 TV channels, unlimited phone calls within France and to 14 countries, and high-speed Internet. The least expensive comparable package from most cable and phone operators in the U.S. is more than $90, although more TV channels are generally included.
Iliad built its own hardware, dubbed the "Freebox," to deliver Internet, voice, and TV services. Iliad also designed its own DSLAMs -- the machines that direct traffic into and out of subscribers' homes. The company uses open source Linux software to write its own programs for Internet TV. It was one of the first companies in the world to offer Internet TV in December 2003."