Arcep condemns the “slow down” in the deployment of orange fibers

Between Orange and Arcepi, nothing is going well. This was confirmed by the hearing of Laure de La Raudière, president of the telecommunications regulator, this Wednesday morning by the Economic Affairs Committee of the Senate. The head of Arcep strongly criticized the current operator regarding the fiber deployment. She accuses him of being too relieved. “Slowing down of Orange deployments in the AMII area [les villes moyennes et périphéries des grandes agglomérations, Ndlr] it is problematic because it deprives some of our fellow citizens of the benefit of fiber”shot Laure de La Raudière before the senators.

For the chairman of the telecom gendarme, this situation is unacceptable, because “weakens copper network shutdown trajectory”used for telephone and ADSL. “Perseverecontinued Laure de La Raudière, it is not reasonable to have the strategy of closing the copper network and at the same time prohibiting the deployment of fibers in the AMII area or in very dense areas. » This case has poisoned the relations between Orange and Arcep for a long time. Disputes are particularly related to the content of the current operator’s commitments in medium-sized cities. In any case, Arcep has given Orange official notice to comply with fiber coverage obligations. This caused the anger of the number one French telecom, who opposed this decision in the Council of State. “I’m surprised, myself, by Orange’s surprise at the fact that we’ve put it on notice to honor the commitments they’ve made.”added Laure de La Raudière.

“It’s a lie”

Orange, for its part, denies having “stopped” fiber deployment in medium-sized cities. “It’s a lie”we are told without denying it “slowdowns”. These arise, the operator defends, from the fact that some “issues”like “That of long and complex connections”or about the opportunity “To propose, in certain cases, alternative technologies for fibers”they are not “still not fixed”.

Laure de La Raudière returned to another explosive file: that of the maintenance of the Orange copper network. The operator is often accused of neglecting this infrastructure, which is still used by millions of French while waiting for fiber to arrive. According to Laure de La Raudière, Orange has no excuse for not properly maintaining its network. “There are still 15 million copper lines active in France, which represents 2 billion euros in annual revenue for Orange”, she said. According to the head of Arcep, there is “There is no element, today, that would justify Orange not being able to respect its obligations for the quality of service on the copper network, taking into account the income it currently derives from it”.

Tensions over the price of debauchery

Orange doesn’t think so at all. The operator shows that it is losing more and more money on the copper network. Its losses reached, he says, 130 million in 2022, compared to 80 million euros in 2021. These are related to the decline of subscribers who migrate to fiber, but also to the increasingly expensive maintenance of this outdated network . This is why Orange has been campaigning for years with Arcep for an increase in the allocation price. This is the price paid by its competitors (SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free) to access its copper network. Orange accuses Arcepi of not respecting a deal seeking to review this separation award and filed on December 20, an appeal to the Council of State.