With the coronavirus crisis, the France Very High Speed Internet Plan, which aims to offer all French people a high-speed fixed Internet connection by 2022, is under threat. This huge project has indeed slowed down considerably with the containment measures.
The president of InfraNum, Étienne Dugas, warns: "If nothing is done, everything could stop within two weeks." At the end of the line, a lot of small and medium-sized companies could fall. Beyond the economic and social breakdown, he estimates that it will take months to restructure the sector and thus relaunch the machine once the epidemic is over.
To avoid such a scenario, Étienne Dugas believes it is essential to maintain fibre deployment activity at the current level. He therefore requested the support of the executive last April 1st during a meeting between representatives of the Telecoms sector and the ministers in charge of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities.
Both InfraNum and the French Telecommunications Federation (FFT) consider it essential that the government publish its Covid-19 guide for the construction industry as soon as possible in order to provide a framework enabling workers deploying fibre to work in safety. Especially since according to InfraNum and the FFT the FFP1 protective masks are sufficient.
Another concern of the industrialists is that many subcontractors can no longer work due to a lack of agreement from the communities. While others have difficulty accessing buildings to connect them to the fibre. Infranum is therefore asking the government to take steps to remove these obstacles.
Finally, an appeal has been launched to provide financial assistance to the fibre industry to keep the most fragile subcontractors afloat. According to Étienne Dugas, the major operators must also "make an effort to enable the sector to survive this tsunami."
Asked about this, the CEO of the FFT, Michel Combot, emphasizes that "the crisis has an impact on the turnover of operators." According to him, Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom are considering ways to support their own chains of subcontractors. "Discussions are underway. Operators could take different types of measures, such as efforts on payment deadlines. We are well aware of our global responsibility."
Source : La Tribune