Faced with the increase in the problems observed on the fiber network and the explosion in the number of "noodle dishes" in connection cabinets, the telecoms gendarme has just stepped up to the plate by reminding commercial operators of their duties.
While criticism is mounting on the quality of fiber connections, Arcep has just delivered its position on this hot topic. For the telecoms policeman, if the split of the fiber connection sector between infrastructure operators (or building) and commercial operators - responsible for the final connection to subscribers - has allowed a "massive acceleration" of the Deployment of fiber in France, it has also given rise to abuses illustrated by the "noodle dishes" which too often overflow from civil engineering cabinets.
For Arcep, if "the request of a commercial operator to make the final connection generally constitutes a reasonable request, it is nonetheless subject to strict compliance with the rules of the art by the commercial operator". If the door is open to all commercial operators who request it in order to improve competition and lower prices, they must nevertheless continue to prioritize quality over quantity.
In the line of sight of the Authority chaired by Laure de La Raudière is notably the STOC mode, this device which organizes the subcontracting of the fiber network by splitting the roles between infrastructure operators (or building operators) and commercial operators to play the role of the access provider. "As such, Arcep's decision is very clear: the regulatory framework fully allows an infrastructure operator to suspend a commercial operator's access to STOC mode in the event of repeated failure on his part to comply with the technical specifications reasonable and in accordance with the rules of the art,” recalls the telecoms gendarme.
Operators commitThe problem of the final connection is not new. A working group set up by Arcep on the subject already reported in 2019 "significant poor workmanship rates in carrying out final connection and mixing operations at the pooling point" and to cite three main difficulties to be solved in order to put an end to the proliferation of "noodle dishes". Among which the repeated non-compliance with the rules of mixing at the pooling point, the defects of the routes taken by the optical fiber that can lead to traffic jams on the optical connection points or downright acts of various vandalism on the pooling points.
To cope with the increase in reports and the rise in discontent, Infranum, the organization which brings together fiber manufacturers, has just announced a major agreement between infrastructure operators and commercial operators to improve the quality of connections. At the end of this agreement - already endorsed by players such as Orange, SFR, Coverage, Axion, and Altitude Infra - the operators undertake to improve the safety and quality of interventions, by strengthening contractual procedures for the recovery of defects and via the carrying out joint audits between infrastructure operators and commercial operators.
While the law currently stipulates that the infrastructure operator alone is responsible for the proper functioning and maintenance of fiber optic connection equipment, the agreement announced by Infranum provides for collective coverage of the costs of refurbishment. state of the network, according to a distribution key approved by Arcep, which recently launched a public consultation on the state of connections in the territory. It should be noted that the new framework advocated by infrastructure operators is accompanied by a more drastic sanction regime which can go as far as the exclusion of a subcontractor in the event of a contractual breach.
Enough to satisfy Arcep for whom the current situation is difficult to understand and to call for the commitments made by Infranum to be signed by all stakeholders in the sector, whether upstream or downstream of the fiber optic deployment chain in France. And to recall that “these networks will be the benchmark fixed infrastructure for the next decades”. As a reminder, France now has more than 10 million fiber subscribers, of which more than 3.3 million have taken the plunge in 2020 alone.