Fiber optics: Paris Saclay, springboard for community uprising against carriers

Fiber optic junction cabinets open on all four sides, forced closing systems, Pierre’s wild disconnect to connect Pauls, fibers dangling from outdoor poles, residents often without internet calling their city “for help” to finally be able to work remotely, in the middle of Covid…

This is just a glimpse of the inconveniences that have been observed for months by the inhabitants of the urban community of Paris-Saclay and their advisers. So on May 19, after almost two years of negotiations with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Arcep) and carriers, Paris-Saclay decided to file a complaint against X with the Evry Court.

This is the first time the community has sued in this way. “Given the inertia of all stakeholders, the city community decided to take the criminal path. There was nothing to be done: the consultations had been started for 18 months and did not give concrete results, despite the commitments made to fix the problems, ”explains Martin Tissier, a lawyer who handled the case at Bersay. The municipalities concerned are Ballinville, Champlain, Chilly-Mazarin, Epinay-sur-Orge, La Ville-du-Bois, Linas, Longjumeau, Marcoussis, Montlhéry, Nozé, Saul-le-Chartreux, Villebon-sur-Yvette and Villejuste.

two criminal offenses

The complaint covers two offenses: the degradation of the communication network, which is a fine and is punishable by a fine of 1,500 euros (in this case, by cable). And the voluntary interruption of electronic communication lines, which is an offense punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros.

“During the connection and crossing operations at concentration points, in a number of cases, voluntary disconnections of one subscriber took place in order to connect another. Those who make these connections know very well what they are doing. The disconnection of the subscriber cannot be explained by negligence or forgetfulness, ”Maitre Tissier clarifies.

a knot of duties that is difficult to unravel

Behind this complaint against X are the infrastructure operator (Tutor Europ’Essonne, owned by Covage, bought in 2020 by SFR and in September 2021 by Altitude Infra) and commercial operators (SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Orange), but above all, or rather, subcontractors who physically work on the network. “We cannot identify the culprits. However, this is not impossible, crossing the clock of interference and disconnection. It is a matter of means and will. The prosecutor will. Does he have the necessary funds, that is the question”, asked by Martin Tissier.

It should be noted that subcontractors, as a rule, receive payment upon connection. Under pressure, sometimes poorly trained, often poorly paid, they are the last link in a complex chain of responsibility, in a cascading system of subcontracting. In this case, the agglomeration community transferred in 2009 to the Intermunicipal Syndicate on the outskirts of Paris for energy and communication networks (Sipperec) its powers in the field of electronic communications. Sipperec, which is not involved, has entered into a public service agreement with Tutor Europ’Essonne, which deploys and operates a publicly driven FTTH network and sells it to commercial operators. Which use subcontractors to connect their subscribers. The whole question is in the distribution of responsibility in such a common network, intertwined in the same way as cables in the cabinets of exchange points.

ambitions that are both “curative and preventive”

Paris-Saclay seeks damages that have not been quantified, but include compensation for damages in terms of funds mobilized by the city’s community. Due to very frequent requests, municipal and inter-municipal agents were forced to organize a hotline.

The procedure can take years and there is no certainty that it will succeed. However, its purpose is also to act as leverage. “The ambition is both curative and preventive. This action also has an educational purpose, to remind the entire sector of its obligations. The network is in a deplorable state, which does not meet what we expect from it. We cannot afford to have a new network with such low fault tolerance, having such significant shortcomings from the very beginning. And this is not an accident, because it is generalized. Self-regulation does not occur clearly not to fix everything. Theme, technical and economic , will not be either through a criminal investigation, ”the lawyer pragmatically admits.

new commitments submitted by the sector

Infranum, the federation representing the telecommunications infrastructure sector, presented on June 1 its commitment to respond to failures that undermine the deployment of optical fiber, at the request of Arcep and former Secretary of State for Digital Technology Cedric O. They are organized around three axes: certification of subcontractors by operators, strengthening on-site control through the transfer of intervention schedules and, finally, the placement of intervention reports in the basis of contractual relations between the parties involved.

In a forum dated April 4, 2022, signed by 28 communities supporting networks of community initiatives and representing more than 12 million French, communities complain that 85% of intervention reports transmitted at the end of the connection are currently unusable.

On June 22, Infranum will present the results of its network resiliency study, which will return, among other things, to non-compliance with best practices during connections and interference with live networks.

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