3 questions for Xavier de Plinval, Head of Asset management at Axione, speaking to Maud Renaux

The Asset Management branch oversees the running of our affiliates all throughout France, while also managing communications with our partner investors and relationships with the Axione teams busy deploying and operating our networks.

We met with Xavier de Plinval and asked him to explain his role as a digital developer, and for his views on the current and future digital challenges being faced in each territory.

Axione carries out its role as a digital developer in collaboration with local governments throughout France, working via public service delegations (referred to in french as DSPS). What is their mission, and what activities are they engaged in?

First of all, Public Service Delegations (DSPs) are a type of out-contracting arrangement that exists in many different sectors, including transport (motorways), water (pipeline networks) and telecommunications.  For a local or regional government, this type of arrangement means entrusting the management of a public service (for which it is responsible) to a private sector operator, whose remuneration will depend heavily on how successfully they operate the service.

Since 2003, Axione has been assisting local governments in the implementation of their digital development policies, via the deployment of multi-technology solutions on first-generation Public Initiative Networks such as backhaul for xDSL services, WiMAX radio networks, and also fibre optic networks dedicated for business use.

Since 2013, our Public Service Delegations (DSPs) have been an active part of the plan to deliver superfast broadband for France, working in the deployment of second-generation Public Initiative Networks. This program aims to provide high-speed internet access throughout France by 2025. In order to attain this objective, an investment of €20bn is being mobilised, €3.3bn of which is being provided by the national government. 

There are two main types of Axione DSPs:

Concessions: In these arrangements, Axione takes on full control of local development operations: financing, design, deployment, marketing and operation of the public network.

Delegation: In these arrangements, the local government deploys its own network through public tender markets. Axione is responsible for marketing and operating the network’s services. To this end, the delegate company pays the local government a license fee for the use of its network.

What’s important to take away from this is that our Project Companies and Public Services Delegates are tasked with financing, designing, deploying and operating digital infrastructures which are open to everyone. As such, Axione offers all operators a full range of telecoms services in a high-performing and lucrative technical environment. These networks enable operators to market their full range of services, in order to meet the needs of both their business clients and private individuals.

The Project Companies can draw upon the Axione teams and their expertise in order to successfully carry out their delegated missions: “thinking globally to act locally.”

DSP at Axione: in figures

Public Initiative Networks

Million FTTH connections under contract

Million euros in revenues

What observations can we make about new uses of digital services having emerged in recent months on the national scale?

The lockdown period changed people’s consumption habits and confirmed the vital importance of digital tools.

More than ever, both businesses and individuals need to be “connected” in order to serve their needs: staying in contact with their loved ones (video), entertainment (VoD), but also to access public services (virtual medical appointments, e-admin), not to mention the huge upsurge in working from home, which has shone a spotlight on the issue of reliable home connections.

As such, deploying and operating fibre optic services reaffirms the meaning behind what we do: the projects we deliver help improve the wellbeing of individuals, companies and entire regions. When fibre optic arrives in an area, its businesses and inhabitants are always extremely eager to gain access to it – even more so since the lockdown occurred.

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Photo credit: Mayor’s office of Gonfreville L’Orcher

What future challenges will we face as we continue to support local governments through their digital transformation?

Operating the networks – i.e. our ability to maintain the network in prime operational condition throughout all geographical areas on a daily basis, and for the duration of the public service delegation – is one of our most critical challenges. The FttH (Fibre to the Home) network will, in time, supply all homes and businesses everywhere in France. We must be ready to anticipate any potential problems, with the ability to re-establish services as quickly as possible in the event of an incident.

At the same time, our trades and our relationships with local governments are evolving: having facilitated the development of digital infrastructures, we must now start looking, alongside local governments, toward the development of the new modes of use that these same infrastructures will bring about.

Spotlight on the deployment of fibre optic in areas covered by Axione 

 175 partner telecoms operators

1.2 million FTTH connections already being operated

400,000 FTTH customers

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