At a time when the shutdown of the copper network is accelerating, more and more elected officials are noticing malfunctions in the territories. Some premises should be fiber in the following years, but in the meantime the Orange operator does not seem ready to connect them to the copper network. The latter should disappear by 2030.
The transition between the final abandonment of the copper network and 100% fiber is now in play. It was in 2019 that incumbent Orange announced its intention to close the copper network across the national territory, between 2023 and 2030.
A first experiment was carried out by Orange to close the copper network in Lévis-Saint-Nom (78) in July 2021. Recently, a second experiment took place in the communes of Voisins-le-Bretonneux (78), Provin (59), Issancourt-et-Rumel (08), Vrigne-aux-Bois (08), Vivier-au-Court (08) and Gernelle (08). At the end of 2022, the operator also announced that 162 municipalities will abandon copper by 2024.
If this plan is to be done “gently » and step by step, the reality observed on the ground is not good. Beyond the fact that the installation of fiber does not always go perfectly in the municipality (read Information of the mayor on December 15)some special cases are not taken into account by the operator, leaving behind some premises which are not connected with copper and which are still waiting for the fiber connection.
If it was recalled by Arcep that the placements must be carried out 100% so that the copper is finally closed, this transitional period in which there are more and more municipalities is a problem.
Neither fiber nor copper
Orange announced this: “From 2026, no operator will be able to offer its customers an XDSL connection offer (ADSL, SDSL, VDSL) or a telephone subscription using the copper network. » But Orange has undertaken to maintain the quality of the copper network until its closure and therefore to maintain satisfactory continuity of service.
In fact, it is something quite different that we observe in certain territories. At Épinal, in the Vosges, the deployment of fibers carried from Orange (Amii area*) is delayed. “Portokallia had ambitions to fiber the city to 100% by December 31, 2022, and today only 73% of the municipality’s housing units are connected, that is, approximately 16,000 housing units out of 22,000”. explains Kévin Guellaff, digital municipal advisor of Épinal.
Therefore, the dismantling of copper luckily is not in the program, but “a conflict” surfaces: “With the arrival of fibre, Orange no longer installs copper lines for new homes. We end up with new homes or purchased homes with no connection to the copper network and therefore no connection. Accommodations are off the grid, generally: no fibre, no copper. » Some families find themselves without a choice, operating – luckily for them – with the 4G or 5G network.
Do it case by case
We find this type of problem in both the Amii and Rip** areas. “You’re building a building in an area where fiber is announced in a year or two, and in the meantime you can’t build new copper lines or connect new premises” , summarizes Michel Sauvade, co-president of the Digital Commission of the AMF and mayor of Marsac-en-Livradois. Result: you have to wait.
“The AMF is attentive because what is happening now risks turning the balance to the right or wrong side for the citizens. explains Michel Sauvade. Through the experiments that are currently being carried out by Orange, we are entering a logic of industrialization of the process. Orange wants to increase power thanks to an industrialized system, but this system should not be fixed. »
Copper shutdown plan should be done “case by case” for the transition from copper to fiber to work without leaving any citizen aside, and this from this transition phase that the municipalities are currently going through.
Get communities more involved
Lack of consultation at the local level does not facilitate copper termination or fiber deployment. The example of the municipality of Epinal is convincing as the delay in the arrival of the fibers is particularly due to the fact that Orange had decided, without notifying the municipality, to install more than 500 new masts in 2020 for the deployment of aerial fibres. A conflict between Orange and Enedis ensued and the municipality was forced to seize Arcepi in this case last May. “Consultation with the territories must have priority” then insisted the mayor of Epinal, Patrick Nardin.
This is the opinion defended by the AMF, which calls for more communication and clarity on the copper shutdown. Mayors have many questions and also observe gray areas such as the cost of private connections. Michel Sauvade cites the case of an individual who had a residence built in a fiber city and where Orange billed an amount greater than 600 euros to install a connection point on this land. “These are points to be clarified” he believes, in the same way as this issue of premises that today have neither copper nor fiber for an indefinite period.
An educational kit was posted online by the Fédération Française des Télécoms (FFT) last week at “Inform and support” common towards the bottom of the copper. This particular case is not mentioned.
The elected associations first of all demand that the government decide a “National Structure to Support the End of Copper” in the same pattern as switching to DTT (read the article The mayors of France). “The AMF would also like to have a privileged interlocutor from the Orange side accompanying the municipality” adds Michel Sauvade.
*Zone Amii (Call for expressions of intent to invest), known as private initiative.
**Networks of public initiative (Rip), supported by local authorities.
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