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Optical fiber: under pressure from the regulator, operators are taking action to strengthen the quality of the networks

“Actions have certainly been carried out by all operators to implement the sector's action plan, but the results are not yet visible or perceptible.

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Optical fiber: under pressure from the regulator, operators are taking action to strengthen the quality of the networks

“Actions have certainly been carried out by all operators to implement the sector's action plan, but the results are not yet visible or perceptible.” The statement is clear, it is signed by the boss of the telecoms policeman (Arcep), Laure de la Raudière. While operators committed a year ago to carrying out a plan aimed at strengthening the quality of their fiber networks after dysfunctions which exploded on the ground, the account is not there yet.

On the occasion of a conference given Thursday at the Arab World Institute in the presence of the Minister of Digital, Jean-Noël Barrot, operators and representatives of local authorities, the boss of Arcep once again reminded operators to their responsibility. As Arcep showed during an observatory published at the beginning of July, the breakdown rate nationally is around 0.12% for nearly 19 million subscribers. But this figure masks disparate realities and certain networks are up to 30 times more accident-prone. As for the failure rate of fiber connections, which refers to situations where the operator has not been able to install fiber in the home, they reach up to 30% again on certain networks.

Growing impatient with operators' procrastination, Arcep did not hesitate to use name and shame by pointing out the most accident-prone networks in its July observatory. “I still receive too many testimonials from customers who are suddenly disconnected, from subscribers deprived of the Internet regularly or for a very long time (...). Arcep now expects concrete results from operators and the entire sector, demonstrating the merits of the action plan to improve service quality. If we do not have one, we will not hesitate to move to another mode of action,” insisted the boss of Arcep. In other words, sanctions.

According to her, poor fiber quality is an obstacle to recruiting new fiber optic subscribers, both among business customers and the general public. Damaging, when it is now established that fiber is a vector of productivity and therefore competitiveness for France. The situation is made even more urgent by the gradual but nevertheless irreversible closure of Orange's ADSL network, planned for 2030 at the latest. Everyone will have to have switched by then, and the malfunctions on certain networks generate distrust among individuals.

The message will therefore have been sent this Thursday, although received lukewarmly by the operators. For several months now, they have been stepping up to defend efforts in the deployment of optical fiber. Although they recognize the difficulties on certain networks, they nevertheless judge that the speed with which the standard was deployed in France (80% of French households covered in just five years) is unparalleled in Europe. Speed ​​which, in certain places, has probably come at the expense of quality. However, and observers were able to gauge this during the debates on the proposed law on the subject put forward by Senator Patrick Chaize, they are fiercely opposed to any new legislation on the subject.

Anxious, however, to be cooperative, the operators united within the French Telecoms Federation (Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom) and Free (which is not a member) have proposed strengthening the quality plan adopted a year ago now. . This focused on the training of those involved in the networks and in particular subcontractors, the monitoring and control of interventions and recovery plans for accident-prone and degraded networks. This Thursday, the operators announced that they wanted to “increase transparency on the quality of the networks through new indicators provided by the OCs (commercial operators, internet access providers, Editor’s note) and, on the other hand, to initiate the strengthening of information exchanges between the IOs (infrastructure operators, who install the network, editor's note) and the OCs. »

Among these sharing of information, the operators indicate that they want to strengthen those on “network interventions”, in “so as to streamline the operators’ industrial processes”. In the past, field observations have, in fact, illustrated the lack of coordination among operators in the recovery of faulty networks in particular. Finally, the operators indicate that “the sustainability of the networks also depends on the worsening of criminal sanctions against acts of vandalism and willful degradation” of infrastructure. According to them, each month, an average of 70 acts of vandalism affect the fiber networks of telecom operators.

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