Fiber: how industrialists and local authorities present the post-French plan for ultra-high speeds

From left to right: Philippe Le Grand, president of the InfraNum federation, and Patrick Shase, senator and president of the Avicca association.

The fiber is in the middle of the ford. The France Very High Speed ​​(THD) plan, which ended at the end of 2022, was unanimously declared a success. By theoretically providing quality Internet access to the vast majority of our compatriots, France has become one of the countries with the most fiber in Europe.

However, this plan leaves an aftertaste of unfinished business. Not only that, there are still poorly served or unserved areas. Thus, according to the latest calculations by Arcep, 80% of the premises can be connected to fiber. Rural and isolated areas are not the only poor relatives of the current deployment. Areas with moderate population density, known as “Amii” for “calling for the expression of investment intent”, are the subject of litigation between the telecommunications regulator and Orange.

It is also necessary to ensure the sustainability of existing infrastructures by increasing their resilience. Between bad weather and malicious acts, networks present worrying vulnerabilities.

Unlike neighboring countries such as Belgium or Germany, our country has decided – in order to increase the speed of deployment – to provide most of the maintenance of its network in the form of air support, telephone poles or electricity. The offensive launched by France may turn against her if she subsequently has to bury these aerial cables.

As two major deadlines approach in the coming years – the ubiquity of fiber expected in 2025 and the disappearance of the copper network in 2030 – fiber network players and local and regional authorities are calling for a major new telecommunications infrastructure plan .

Ifer for work

This is the whole point of the digital “Good Deal” run by Avicca, an association of digital communities, and InfraNum, a federation that brings together all the players in the optical chain in France, from integrators to operators through equipment. manufacturers. This post-THD plan aims to satisfy all players: subscribers, local authorities, industrialists and executives.

Rejecting the motto of the Republic, it is based on a triptych of equality, sustainability and solidarity. Equality of digital access for all French people, durability of fixed infrastructures and solidarity between territories, in particular through the maintenance of networks of community initiatives (RIP), which give local authorities a privileged role in the digital development of their territory.

Because money is always the sinew of war, Avicca and InfraNum present a plan that is designed to be self-financing, with no creation of taxes or surcharges, and that should not affect fixed-line subscription prices. To do this, it provides for the creation of an optical network alignment fund (FPRO), “estimated at several hundred million euros”.

This FPRO will be funded by an expected increase in the single tax rate for grid companies (Ifer). Collected for the benefit of local authorities, this tax is intended, in particular, for telecom operators in the amount of 1709 euros for each installed antenna. With the rollout of 5G, the number of this Ifera will increase dramatically.

Philippe Le Grand, president of the InfraNum federation, estimates that currently around 400 million euros, Ifer could reach one billion euros in a few years. “The surplus may be wholly or partly reallocated to an equalization fund.”

The Digital Good Deal also provides for the creation of a national framework to complete the latest connections, especially complex connections requiring public building work. This structure will mobilize private or public actors and will be led by a “wise investor” such as La Banque des Territoires.

Account or account

This plan is also a response to Jean-Noel Barrot. During the March 8 Senate hearing, the Minister Delegate in charge of Digital Transition and Telecommunications made a rather similar observation about the telecommunications network landscape in France, which demands the right to very high speed for everyone.

Avicca senator and president Patrick Chase hopes to convince the minister to accept the Good Deal proposals. “Digital is a cross-party issue that everyone agrees on.” Otherwise, he is not prohibited from submitting a bill. “The very high speed plan in France is a success, but an unfinished success,” said the elected official. – We have to finish the job. Otherwise, those who forget about fiber risk waiting a very long time.”

For his part, Philippe Le Grand recalls that since 2016 for the digital republic, that is, before Emmanuel Macron came to power, there has not been a single serious law on digital technologies. “Right now. All planets are aligned.” The ball is clearly on the side of the government.

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