“Sometimes it suddenly breaks, so everything is erased and you have to start all over again”, complains Bernadette, engrossed in the lay-out file she filled out online. The 68-year-old vice president, who is expected to be operated on at the end of August, has spent hours there. Low speed, repeated cuts, problems with Wi-Fi, often accompanied by a lack of 4G coverage, undermine the daily life of his village, Autruy-sur-Juine in the Loiret (45).
One of the “white areas” that still covers France, these territories not covered by a mobile network, sparsely populated and mostly located in rural areas. According to the Electronic Communications Regulatory Authority (Arcep), they represented only 2% of the national territory in December 2021 and must disappear.
A generation Z on the fringes
Meanwhile, Bernadette is getting confused. For his medical follow-up -“Doctolib is not for us! Sometimes I worry because I can’t make an appointment”, sighs the pensioner, often forced to go to friends who have more networks. As in his family life: when he visits, the 13-year-old grandson sometimes accompanies him to the village to enjoy a small network and communicate with his friends, while the grandmother a race.
“Our children are resuming the lifestyle we had as children and doing more outdoor activitiesputs Laetitia into perspective, including the 14-year-old teenager, a fan of video games, “grinds all day” due to connection problems. But for this Lakritish farmer, there is a real risk of leaving these young people on the margins: “They have to move with the times. »
Léa, 18, is leaning on him. “I had to go to a higher domain to download content”smiles the young girl, who also remembers the shutdown and remote sharing, when she had to share wi-fi connection times with her family. “Students who go back to their parents at the weekend feel like they’re going back to the Stone Age”ironically for her part Céline Gadois, the mayor of Sceaux-du-Gâtinais.
“Peace is priceless”
It was in this other town in the white zone that Arturi, 27, created his artisanal soap business in 2015. The Internet connection, which he was unaware of the weakness of, quickly became a daily obsession: “99% of our orders are made online and sometimes it takes a long time. » Not to mention the slowness that complicates communication on social networks and wastes precious hours. In short, Arthur did his calculations and decided: he decided to invest in a satellite dish, which cost him almost €400 to buy and €80 for a monthly subscription. “It is expensive, but peace of mind is priceless. »
An imperative that Céline Gadois knows well, convinced that the lack of a network is a blow to the attractiveness of her city. “After the lockdown, Parisians who were planning to settle in rural areas called us to find out if we were OK in terms of the network. Our response immediately put the brakes on it.”, she regrets it. Beyond possible installation projects, how can you explain to vacationers that they will be “cut off from the world” ? “We can try to navigate green tourism, but I’m not sure it’s very popular. »
The city councilor is already pinning his hopes on the network antenna that should be created in the first half of 2023. And especially on fiber, like all the residents. “She will arrive soon! »hopes Bernadette, pointing to the cables being installed in front of her house.
Disappearance of white areas
As part of the “Mobile New Deal” announced in January 2018 by Arcep and the government, operators are committed to improving “Localized and significant coverage of areas in which the need for digital development of the territory has been identified”.
At the end of September 2021, more than 88% of the 2,600 pages of the “white zone” program – city centers” were equipped with 4G, compared to 60% at the end of September 2020, according to Arcep.
Throughout the national territory, the area covered by 4G by at least one operator fell from 97% in mid-2021 to 98% on 31 December 2021.