Orange gives the green light to the dismantling of copper telephone lines in France

State-controlled telephone company Orange has been allowed to start removing copper wires in some municipalities from the end of 2024, with the whole country to be disconnected by 2030.

Orange must work with other suppliers

Initial plans to remove all copper telephone wires were criticized by other operators, including SFR, Free and Bouygues Telecom, as being too slow and giving Orange a commercial advantage in switching to fiber optics.

Regulator Arcep has asked Orange to respond and has now approved the plan, with minor adjustments, to ensure that all operators are consulted commune by commune as the dismantling proceeds.

Read more: Unhappy mobile and fiber customers after rapid deployment in France

Most copper connections are in rural France

Only municipalities fully connected to the fiber optic network will be in the first wave of disconnections.

About 20 million households in France still have wired copper connections, used for fixed telephony, ADSL internet and telephony.

Orange claims that 70% of the population already has access to the more modern fiber optic wires installed on telephone sets – but this figure skims over the fact that most of the remaining 30% live in a vast swath of rural areas.

More money to install fiber

Local authorities are responsible for providing fiber optic cable to rural communities, but many have fallen far behind.

Parts of southern Charente, for example, which were first told they would be connected in 2017 and then it would be by the end of 2021, have now been told there is no date for the date on which they will be connected.

There is no more money from the ministry for the deployment of fiber optics.

A deadline of 2025 to cover the entire department has been set in 2019.

Orange reassures municipalities with copper wires

A spokesperson for Orange told La Connexion that people who still have copper wires and no date for installing fiber optic connections in their towns shouldn’t worry.

“Nothing will be done to cut the copper line until there are alternatives in place,” he said.

“In the vast majority of places the alternative will be fiber optic cable connections, but in a few hard-to-reach areas we may have to go through 4G or 5G mobile phone connections, which will be significantly faster. than ADSL.”

Fiber optic lines are better for the environment

Orange says the end of the copper-wire telephone network in France will save the company 500 million euros a year.

He says fiber-optic equipment is more robust in stormy weather, although in most areas he shares old telephone sets with copper wires.

In homes, fiber optic connections provide a way to get reliable television or movie streaming services over the Internet that ADSL lines cannot.

Internet connections should also be much faster and easier to use. There are also environmental benefits, says Orange.

He claims that Internet connections using fiber optic lines use less than 0.5 watts of electricity per line, while ADSL connections use 1.8 watts.

Orange criticized for poor maintenance of remaining wires

Opponents of phasing out copper too quickly say it has big advantages in rural areas, especially since phones connected to it continue to work during power cuts.

Fiber optic phones must be connected through boxes that must be plugged into a household’s electrical system.

Last year Orange, which had the legal responsibility to maintain copper wire telephone service until every home in France had an alternative, was strongly criticized by Arcep for letting it fall into disrepair. .

Its legal obligation ended this year, but the firm promises to maintain maintenance until at least next year until alternative solutions are put in place.

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