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Universal service: A parliamentary mission proposes to renew Orange for five years

Pointed out for repeated malfunctions in its mission as the universal delegatee of the public service in charge of the copper network, Orange had everything to fear from a parliamentary mission on the subject, entrusted by the government to the LREM member of Drôme Célia of Lavergne at the beginning of January. The incumbent operator is not likely to be disappointed by the first directions given by this flash mission.

If the universal service delegation agreement, signed between the State and Orange for the last time in November 2017, recently ended, the member intends to extend it by five years, until the switchover to fiber is effective, including included in rural areas. “I am very aware of the cost of this decision for Orange, but it will be offset by a contribution from other operators,” said the elected representative, recalling that “it has been several months that anger has been mounting in the territories about the connecting rural areas ”.

For her, it is also necessary to review the precision of the indicators making it possible to report on the quality of service of the copper network. “The framework set did not allow the universality of the service since the agreement signed with Orange only includes national indicators which only concern part of the population”, she said on Wednesday at a point hurry. And to say that it is in favor of the establishment of departmental indicators in order to offer the same quality of service to inhabitants of towns and the countryside.

Arbitrations expected in early March

So many proposals followed with attention by the new president of Arcep, Laure de la Raudière, who had already followed the issue when she was a member of the Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly. “This is a very complex subject. Arcep will study Célia de Lavergne’s proposals with great attention because many of our fellow citizens, especially in rural areas, are still dependent on copper networks, ”she said at the same press briefing.

The first government arbitrations on the subject will be made in early March, for his part said the Secretary of State for Digital Cédric O, who said he discussed the subject with the CEO of Orange, Stéphane Richard, and the Secretary of State for Rurality, Joël Giraud, this Monday. “We have work to do in the coming month on this subject and we will make sure to present the government’s action plan during the first half of March,” he said.

Without giving more details on the content of the exchanges between the staff of Orange and the executive, the Secretary of State noted “a desire to advance on the side of Orange”. “Orange has somehow understood the anger of the territories and we are now awaiting the operator’s responses to these new requests”, for her part argued MP Célia de Lavergne. As for the outcome of these discussions, we will therefore have to wait a few more weeks to get a more precise idea.

As a reminder, in a forum signed in mid-December by Célia de Lavergne and 215 other elected officials, the member of the majority already castigated the lack of maintenance of the network by Orange, as well as the fact “that the opening of a line takes more than six months, and the repair of weeks ”, while the operator is“ supposed to intervene within 48 hours ”. “If these copper lines are to be replaced by fiber, we will not be able to do without them for at least another 10 years. Until then, we are cruelly dependent on it, ”argued the signatories of this forum.

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