Over the past two or three years, the acceleration in fiber deployment has been clear, but the hardest part remains to be done: connecting the least dense areas of the territory. Despite the government's efforts - generalization of fiber by 2025 by mobilizing nearly 300 million euros to support the latest projects not yet funded - the account is not there. The reason: to serve scattered housing or isolated businesses, the cost of so-called long connections is very high and for some, it may even be prohibitive.
The answer must emerge from "negotiations with the various local authorities on the financing of their projects, with major demands that may not be able to be met exactly," explains Cédric O. Indeed, the Secretary of State wants "to match needs and subsidies to achieve the goal of 100% fiber in 2025. For the specifications, we'll see afterwards".
Non-standard connections are also available in less dense areas of private initiative. The question of the effective availability of fiber arises for homes and businesses that are isolated and/or difficult to serve. This is the case in the AMII zone, where Orange and SFR's commitment was to make 100% of premises connectable by the end of 2020. Including 8% on request because they are considered more complex to serve or not a priority.
If the health crisis has pushed back the deadline for these commitments, they will finally be reached in 2021 according to Nicolas Guérin, Secretary General of the French Federation of Telecoms. For Arcep, it is the responsibility of the State to ensure this. For Sébastien Soriano, President of the Regulatory Authority, "no worries" about SFR's compliance with the deadlines. However, he believes that there is "a landing point to be built with Orange".
A common ground could be found on the launch of offers for premises that can be connected on demand. This would enable a little over one million homes and businesses "set aside" during the initial deployment schedule to be connected within six months of the order being placed with an access provider. Nicolas Guérin, also Orange's General Secretary, explains that after having made massive deployment, the incumbent operator is now able to "move to a more qualitative deployment".
On the Arcep side, where "procedures are under way" to gauge operators' compliance with completeness rules, we are waiting to see if these offers will enable us to respond to the problems identified. In any case, Sébastien Soriano considers it desirable that these on-demand connection offers should first arrive in areas that have been scheduled for more than five years - and sometimes much longer - and where 100% of the premises are not yet connectable.
The question of the durability of the FttH networks also arises, particularly concerning the connection in Stoc mode. Access providers want to connect their customers themselves. While network operators are not against this, they are concerned about connection failures and the damage this causes. Both parties are not desperate to find new agreements before the end of the year, in order to clarify the responsibilities of each party.
All of this is under the watchful eye of the communities that own the public-initiative networks. If it is not surprising to hear elected officials thundering against the Stoc mode; it is more surprising to see a member of the government raising his voice on this very operational issue. "It's not possible," Cédric O. hammered out, "We are in the process of ruining what we are achieving" by strongly encouraging those concerned to solve the problem: "Either we know how to solve it intelligently between people of good will, or the State will have to make more complicated decisions, even if it means causing inconveniences in the system".
Stakeholders therefore no longer seem to have much leeway to save the Stoc mode. And to achieve this, the representative federations - InfraNum for the networks, the FTT for the operators - need to get around the table, thus pleading the case of several players in the ecosystem. This is also the opinion of Benoît Loutrel, commissioned by the French Secretary of State for the Digital Economy to study "securing the deployment and operating conditions for FttH networks". His task will be to re-examine the France THD program. The report he will produce in a year's time will "not be intended to put pressure on this or that actor, but rather to problematize and find a method", warns the interested party. It will propose ways to "transfer learning feedback" between territories, to "organize the interplay between public authorities and industry", and finally to "anticipate the resilience of networks".
On this last point, while burying is a common sense choice in the West Indies, it is no less relevant in metropolitan France.Climate risks also weigh on an air deployment that is anything but marginal, argues the Bank of the Territories. As part of its recovery plan, it plans to allocate additional resources to support local authorities in their landfill projects and secure access to major network sites. To this end, a call for projects will be launched in 2021.
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Source : DegroupTest