The government has announced new funding for public fibre optic networks. For the past two years, local authorities and fibre manufacturers have been calling for the reopening of the subsidy window for Public Initiative Networks. However, this will be done in a piecemeal fashion, with only €140 million allocated in 2020. A sum resulting from savings made on previously launched programmes, thanks to economies of scale on deployment work but also from the growing appetite of private investors for these highly profitable projects.
However, funds remain far from the estimated needs to complete, or almost complete, the deployment of optical fibre in some 25 departments by 2025. Among those who do not benefit from it, the National Federation of Licensing Authorities and Authorities. Jean-Luc Sallabery, in charge of the FNCCR's digital department, reacted and said that the envelope announced by the government was not "up to the challenge". Only a few days ago, the Federation demanded a contribution of one billion euros from the counter.
This should cover about 20% of the amount needed for the remaining 3 million fibre optic lines to be deployed. This is relatively small compared to the 36 million French premises, but "they are the most complicated, with a projected cost of 1,500 - 1,600 euros per take. That is a total cost of 4.5 to 5 billion euros," Jean-Luc Sallabery calculates. He thus regrets the "double penalty" imposed on the territories: deployments on private funds in AMEL, which he doubts will really be completed, and reduced funding for local authorities that have chosen to keep the RIP model.
Government arithmetic raises even more questions because it does not fit in with the dynamics of ongoing projects. Thus, if Avicca, the association of local authorities for Digital, is screaming "victory" following this announcement, it is in reality to better point out the efforts that will have to be made immediately. "It will be essential for parliamentarians to mobilize within the framework of the finance bill to enable all first applications, ready to be submitted, to be accompanied," she stressed. Estimated cost: an additional €322 million.
An additional envelope that MPs will have to unblock or risk attending a "clash of hands" between territories that, to launch their projects, will not have the time to wait for hypothetical savings, warns Ariel Turpin. The State intends to achieve these savings as they occur by recycling unused credits in order to raise the 4 to 500 million it considers necessary. This mechanism should enable the government to remain within the budget initially allocated to the France THD counter, i.e. 3.3 billion. But for its part, the association of local authorities for Digital continues to consider it undervalued in order to bring optical fibre to the whole territory.
On the other hand, for InfraNum it works. "I agree with the government's speech. There are savings being made in deployments, and the 3.3 billion envelope should indeed be enough to meet all the demands of local authorities," says Étienne Dugas, President of the Federation of Very High Speed Industrialists.
The relative modesty of the 140 million euros initially promised does not move him beyond measure. "It's not a money issue. For the remaining catches, all you have to do is launch them in a concession and the demand for subsidies will be almost nil," he says.
"What was important was to reopen the counter so that the files could be processed," concludes the InfraNum boss. In addition, we are satisfied with another announcement, namely the signature of the strategic contract for the digital infrastructure sector "by the end of the year".
Source : DegroupNews