3 questions for Gaëtan Nicolas on the “Safety Captain” initiative
ZOOM ON THE SUBJECT OF THE SAFETY CAPTAIN INITIATIVE
With a view to limiting the number of accidents and involving managers and teams in health & safety matters, axione is launching the “safety captain” initiative.
Gaëtan Nicolas Director of Operations for the Southeast of France within the Axione Production Management Team
WHY APPOINT A SAFETY CAPTAIN IN EACH TEAM?
By late 2019, a year that had seen a high number of accidents, the production management committee felt this was an essential step forward. First we created a working group, made up of two people from each region.
This group was given the task of coming up with ideas for raising awareness among employees about health and safety matters. These ideas would then be put to the management committee. Notwithstanding the wide range of health and safety measures implemented by Axione/BYCN, the working group (technical staff and supervisors) were clear that our teams and our managers wanted to become more involved in this area.
This is how the group came up with the idea of giving one person in each team direct responsibility for health and safety.
What does a safety captain have to do?
The Safety Captain is responsible for disseminating Axione’s safety culture on the ground.
Like the captain of a sports team, the Safety Captain acts as a link between management and the players on the ground.
He or she acts as a spokesperson with responsibility for advocating good practice in relation to safety and withdrawal rights, who also has the power to question and flag up potential risks. On the ground, no work should begin without a Safety Captain.
The Safety Captain ensures that a proper safety briefing takes place at the start of each day, and that safety regulations are being adhered to everywhere on site. He or she will also provide support to new employees to help facilitate their integration.
How are they appointed?
Safety Captains are not assigned by the management team, but chosen by their peers. Seniority is not a prerequisite for taking on this role. The essential qualities of a Safety Captain are above all, enthusiasm for the role and the ability to set an example and get information across to other people.
The role of Safety Captain does not have to be held by one person indefinitely, the idea is that it can rotate between different team members.
In an ideal world, we would hope that all technical staff might one day take on the role of Safety Captain.
A high-performance solution with fully rolling out the indoor 3G/4G network across
Axione has rolled out indoor coverage at La Samaritaine, an iconic building listed in the French historic monuments register, which dates back to 1870. The building, which has been undergoing renovation work since 2015, is owned by the LVMH group and is located right in the heart of Paris. This project is a wonderful yardstick as it demonstrates Axione’s expertise in implementing indoor-coverage projects.
In June 2019, Axione was tasked with fully rolling out the indoor 3G/4G network across the entire area of the La Samaritaine department store (20,000m² of retail space), by the company in charge of electrical works Santerne Île-de-France (IDF), for the customer LVMH. Therefore, after five years of works, operations on the new department store, located on rue de Rivoli in Paris’ 1st arrondissement, have been taken up once again by DFS (Duty Free Shoppers), a subsidiary of the LVMH group.
104 radio antennae have been set up inside the building by 7 Axione staff members, who were enlisted to work on the site. Axione completed the works in July 2020.
Credits : Rémy Kerbiquet
Therefore, visitors from all over the world will be able to enjoy the best possible connectivity thanks to multi-operator 3G and 4G networks, meaning that they can be accessed by all network users, irrespective of their operator and their nationality. Foreign visitors will therefore be able to access this superfast broadband, as the site will boast international functionality.
Axione teams have completed the initial process of bringing the operators online. This event is a reflection of the strong synergy with partner operators and is evidence of our expertise in delivering indoor coverage projects for department stores.
The Axione teams have satisfied our requirements for the project. They have adapted to the project’s constraints, particularly in relation to putting in place hidden antennae in the suspended ceilings, despite how little space there is and how dense the networks are. This project has been a great success, which has established a trusting relationship between our companies for the future
Jean-Baptiste GANDIN, Head of Santerne Île-de-France
Credits : ARFORIA
Axione meets its customers needs, irrespective of their usage and their business sector, by providing a tailored solution, adapting to different types of infrastructure. For this project, Axione has provided its construction expertise, while respecting the aesthetics of a historic site. We have adapted to the complexities of multiple parallel activities and of keeping to schedules on the project. Thank you to our customer Santerne IDF for the faith that it has placed in us during the entire works phase
Tamara CHANY, Commercial Manger for Axione Île-de-France which has been responsible for this project
Well done to the teams for successfully completing this history-making project for Axione.
Access to HSBB has become a point of competitiveness and attraction throughout the regions. Eric Jammaron, Deputy CEO at Axione, provides this analysis: He presents us with the added value of the mutualised telecom infrastructure, and his role in revitalising the regions.
To summarise :
550 million euros in consolidated turnover
6,500 communes already provided with broadband, which amounts to 13 million inhabitants and 2 500 HSBB areas of activity
150 operator customers
4 million km of fibre deployed per year
24 public initiative networks
6million FTTH connections under contract
700 staff appointments in 2020
In 2003, Axione was created to respond to the requirement for digital planning. Tell us more about exactly what your business involves.
We find solutions for responding to regions’ constraints in terms of connectivity. The principle is make it possible for all telecom operators to offer the best solutions everywhere, without having to build a network right to the customer’s door. In real terms, we design, build, fund and use new generation fibre and radio telecom networks, from national datacentres to the very last building in a ‘département’ [like a county]. These networks are then lent to operators. This recent problem was born from the fact that the risk linked to the profitability of investments limits the presence of operators, particularly in less densely populated regions. To meet this challenge, we started with the idea of mutualising one single telecom infrastructure used by all service providers, thereby making the old adage ‘one operator, one network’ redundant.
To what extent do you feel that ultra-high speed promotes the regions’ economic momentum?
Digital communication has a critical place in our daily lives: health, education, the economy, mobility, public services… This will continue to be the case, and will keep growing for years to come. Indeed nowadays, a large number of services, both public and commercial, are more easily accessed by the internet. This is why we need to provide relevant answers so that all regions are equal in this reality of digital life.
Today we are seeing a stronger trend to move away from the cities and settle down in less densely populated areas. The first thing people expect to have is a good connection and a good network. The internet has become a tool for production, commercialisation and socialisation. Building an infrastructure which changes the lives of people and businesses brings a meaning to our project, and ties in completely to a sustainable contribution to a progressive society.
Installing perfect, universal connectivity brings everyone an equal opportunity to develop themselves, learn, take care of themselves, sell or create. We are committed to finding the right solutions, according to the particular nature of each region, by deploying the right network in the right place.
We are currently part of a European, perhaps even global dynamic in terms of ensuring internet access under the best possible conditions. In this context, Axione is participating in writing history of universal connectivity. We must find long-term financial, technical, and organisational solutions, all while training people to face these new challenges, which are generating a lot of expectation across regions.
Could you explain what a PIN is? How is it different to other fibre optic deployment projects?
The Public Initiative Network (PIN) is an idea which was born from a 2004 law. More than 15 years ago, operators didn’t want to invest in very rural areas. Local collectivities were therefore authorised to establish telecommunication networks, so that operators could reach them. The notion of a mutualised infrastructure was born; this is the idea from which Axione was developed. The big difference with a private operator’s network is that the PIN is a local public service which translates into a public contract with commitments in terms of coverage, quality of infrastructure and quality of use. Managing a PIN means respecting a certain number of contractual general interest commitments that can be penalised by coercive measures. For example, in the most developed areas of the country, 100% of the population should be eligible for FTTH.
All HSBB key players are in agreement that deployment of fibre optics moved up a gear last year. What are your plans for the coming years?
The initial challenge is to continue to provide universal connectivity that must evolve over time, and therefore participate in the dynamic of urban and rural development in France and abroad. Both in very high speed fibre optics (FTTH) and radio (4 and 5G), as well as in low speed radio (Lora…).
To do this, we must continue down our path of industrialisation and retain our efficiency in production, all the while satisfying our customers’ general interest, the growth in subscriptions of our operator customers and the achievement of cash flows promised to our investors. The investment mutualisation model makes it possible to act on the intensity of competition, favouring a wide choice of providers and, indeed, the diversity of services. We have been using it for more than 15 years in the most rural zones. And we are now using it in the largest French cities, via our subsidiary company CityFast; Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux…
We are continually seeking to bring a higher added value, when operating both in France and abroad. Digital technology widens the range of possibilities. We are not ruling out any additional areas of development to make digital technology accessible to all.
Is public funding a determining factor for the development of infrastructures or are there alternatives?
Public funding has been very important in the rolling out of digital infrastructures, and also at the beginning of Axione’s history.
Historically, the financial markets were not aware of the problems with mutualised infrastructures. For this reason, they had no appetite for supporting investment projects on infrastructures like this without direct intervention with end customers and, in fact, with cash flows dependent on their operator customers. Now, this market has become a sought-after investment for financial investors.
Beyond their usefulness for the public, these projects also represent predictable returns, as the risk of the internet disappearing is highly unlikely.I would say that today, it is the contractual partnership with the public authorities rather than the public funding which unifies the various powers and pushes us collectively to find solutions in a particularly fast-moving environment.
Our employees’ daily lives include technical, financial and structural innovation… and a great deal of pragmatism in the field!
Recognising that the objective for FTTH in 2025 is 92%, 8% of the population will still need an alternative solution. What does that mean to you?
The target for Axione is 100% FTTH. The traditional era of telephone networks is coming to an end. In addition, the closure of the copper network has been announced as being between now and 2030.
Fibre therefore is the most long-term and suitable solution as its replacement.At the same time, we are working with mobile operators to deploy 4G and 5G. Indeed, we are not opposed to fibre to mobile networks. They will require a fairly strong fibre capillarity.
The more fibre there is in a region, the better the 5G coverage will be; the two nourish each other and are interdependent.There is a schedule and a calendar to ensure we manage to achieve this objective of fibre for everyone. At the same time as these deployments, there is capacity for other solutions to temporarily provide answers to needs such as HSBB radio (LTE), which we are deploying throughout numerous departments, fixed 4G of mobile operators, or satellite…
The difficulty of recruitment in fibre-related professions is often discussed. How does Axione find this issue?
Our employees are at the heart of the success of our business and the added value of the company. Every person working at Axione is participating in a collective, ambitious and public utility business project. We support our employees so that they may evolve their careers within the company. Our skills are diverse: finance, technology, management, marketing, trade, innovation, communication… We believe that every person has something to contribute to the company. Axione is, first and foremost, a human and industrial adventure.
The company’s senior management is there to support, motivate and promote the collective intelligence which is one of our driving forces. We are always stronger as an entity, and good ideas can come from everyone and anyone. In 2020, we are proposing more than 700 staff appointments in France and abroad. We have great careers prospects to offer to our future talents.
The issues with digital service development and regional equipment are faced by many. Several countries are in mid-development, for example Germany and the UK, where fibre optics are becoming an important issue. There is no doubt that we can provide these countries with our knowledge. That’s why this year we created Axione UK, to export the mutualised infrastructure model and thus continue the adventure on the other side of the Channel.
To read more about the subject
The Axione teams used a helicopter to deliver a radio pylon for the Free Mobile account on July 2nd, flying through the skies of Galéria (Haute-Corse) at an altitude of more than 400m.
This operation is part of the New Deal project, which aims to equip the area known as the ‘White Zone’, so-called because it is without mobile network connection, with 3G and 4G coverage.
The site is isolated, so using a helicopter made transporting the necessary equipment during various phases of deployment across the site a lot easier. A live base set up high in the mountains for the entire duration of the works provided the accommodation office for the teams mobilised on-site.
Deploying connectivity throughout a region without losing authenticity
The aesthetic tone of this 4-ton cross-shaped pylon is a first in France. This equipment, developed by ‘Kitting Telecom’, a company specialising in pylon design, shows that it is possible to integrate digital equipment into a region without disfiguring the landscape.
Congratulations to the teams.
On tuesday 7th july, avicca*, represented by its vice-president Nathalie Zammit-Helmer, President of the Ardèche-Drôme Numérique mixed association, and the voluntary military service (smv), represented by general Marc Boileau, signed this framework partnership agreement.
The objective of this collaboration is to promote the recruitment, integration, and training of volunteers from the Voluntary Military Service in digital sector professions.
Around ten young people between the ages of 18 and 25 from the Ambérieu en Bugey Voluntary Military Service Centre will have the opportunity, through this initiative, to join companies rolling out the public fibre optic network in Ardèche and Drôme, including the Axione/Bouygues Energies & Services consortium.
This forms a constituent element of the strategic thrust already initiated by the ADN Mixed Association, which is committed to ensuring that its public project for the rollout of fibre optic services has as much positive impact on employment and the local economy as possible, and since the project began in 2014, ADN has included occupational integration clauses in its contracts.
72,260 hours of occupational integration work have already been completed by 74 people seeking work as part of the initial contracts awarded to 5 consortiums over the first 5 years of rollout (2017-2021). As a continuation of this momentum, the new contract awarded to the Axione/Bouygues Energies & Services consortium in 2019 will allow for an additional 200,000 hours of occupational integration work to be carried out by 2025.
*AVICCA (Association des Villes et Collectivités pour les Communications électroniques et l’Audiovisuel – “Association of Cities and Communities for Electronic Communications and Audiovisual Media”).).
Formed in 2007, the ADN Mixed Association brings together the Région Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, the two Departments of Ardèche and Drôme, and the region’s 27 EPCIs (Communities of Communes and Conurbation Communities), and leads the region’s public digital development policy.
The ADN Association launched an ambitious project for the construction of over 310,000 FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) connections throughout the region’s 636 communes (64 of which will be dealt with by the private Plan France Très Haut Débit framework), which will provide coverage for 97% of households within the next 8 years.
The ADTIM FTTH Public Service Delegation—comprising ADTIM (95.3%), Axione (3.9%), and Bouygues Energies & Services (1%)—was selected by ADN in 2016 to operate the public FTTH network.
Within this framework, the ADTIM FTTH delegation’s missions include:
Marketing the FTTH network to Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Connecting end users (households, businesses, or administrations) as soon as they have subscribed to a fibre package with an operator
Fibre optics have become as indispensable to us as water and electricity; they are deeply rooted in our daily lives.
Deploying them all around the country is one of most ambitious projects ever undertaken. In the country and in the suburbs, they are particularly eagerly-awaited. Installation will result in a positive effect on regional growth and on the local economy.
Spotlight on the Centre d’Exploitation Réseaux, Services et Sécurité (CERSS – Networks, Services, and Security Operating Centre) in Pau.
Between managing exceptional network traffic and reorganising teams, the head of this unit, Thomas Fagart, explains to us how the teams ensured reliable connections for over 50,000 businesses and 1 million French households during the confinement period.
Thomas FAGART, Head of the Networks, Services & Security Operating Center
1) How did the teams from the CERSS organise themselves during these extraordinary times we are going through?
90% of CERSS staff is currently telecommuting, which is about 80 people.
The unit’s activities are divided into two parts:
Change management, which the Activation and Commissioning team deals with
Commissioning Public Initiative Networks (active equipment)
Marketing and Production (client connections)
Incident management, which the Company, Client, and General Public Technical Support (client-reported incidents), Supervision (tool-reported incidents), and Network and System Expertise teams deal with on a 24/7 basis. Dealing with these incidents is crucial to keeping networks and systems operational.
Our organisational structure has been majorly affected over the past six weeks, with a drop of around 80% in activity due to reduced activity both in terms of connections and rollout.
As for incident management, activity also dropped by around 20 to 30% due to diverse factors both within and outside of the company. Nevertheless, the rest of the teams are continuing their work, maintaining connections for more than 1 million French households and 50,000 businesses during a period in which internet connectivity has essentially become as important as electricity.
Since 16th March, CERSS employees have been able to carry out their tasks without internal or external clients being able to discern any difference in the quality of the service provided.
We can therefore say that the proliferation of teleworking has proven a success during the confinement period, and demonstrates the effectiveness of the CERSS activity continuity plan.
2) Has the confinement period led to more network traffic?
The network has been extremely busy in general. This outstanding amount of traffic due to the confinement period did not cause any specific malfunctions because the networks are calibrated to accommodate such traffic volumes.
Under normal circumstances, we see traffic peaks in the evening when everyone gets home. During the confinement period, we found that this “evening peak” was spread throughout the day. Traffic volumes never exceeded this maximum peak.
Altogether, the fact remains that much more data has been transmitted on the public-initiative networks managed by Axione.
3) How did you manage these exceptional volumes?
All of the teams in charge of infrastructure developments were active in rolling out new “pipelines” on core networks. We certainly did not see any extraordinary spikes during the confinement period, public-initiative networks are undergoing major growth and traffic therefore increases every month.
So, the architecture teams and production units, alongside the CERSS, doubled their efforts to increase the capacity of Axione networks during March and April.
A map of Axione networks and their use in the morning
A map of Axione networks and their use in the afternoon
WHAT IS YOUR JOB?
I am the works manager for the fibre optic rollout project in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (THD 59-62). I work under the head of production at Axione and I head up a team made up of site managers, foremen and telecom technicians.
WHAT HAS YOUR CAREER PATH BEEN?
For ten or so years I worked as a site foreman in the radio rollout sector for other operators. In fact, I was already working in telecoms but not with fibre optics.
HOW DID YOU COME TO JOIN AXIONE?
Actually I spotted the FTTH project for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais early on. Given that it was the biggest project in terms of the sockets to be deployed in France as part of the Public Initiative Networks, I found the working environment very stimulating ! I applied for the job directly on the website, and afterwards Human Resources contacted me and I quickly had my first interview. I joined Axione in January 2017.
AND AFTER YOU ARRIVED?
In 2017, I joined the Deployment Division as a works coordinator. I had that job for two and a half years, and last year the position of works manager became vacant. Priority was given to internal applicants and I was finally chosen for the job. This promotion was a great opportunity for me and now I get to have a much broader scope of responsibilities.
WHAT IS IT THAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING?
In my job, the human side is very important and I find it stimulating every day. Being close to my teams is what counts for me! The management of my teams is done face to face, unlike my past experience, and that’s what I appreciate every day- the relationships I have with my co-workers.
a lot of trail running in the past, in fact I’m aiming to take it up again,
really! I also play futsal with my colleagues, we regularly hold matches
between DPL and DHR, we mix up the teams, there’s a great atmosphere, there’s a
fair amount of teasing on the pitch but it stays friendly.
also took part in the Frapadingue. It’s an obstacle course packed with hurdles,
ladders to climb, tunnels to crawl through, mud etc.! We made up an Axione team
for the event. We are really looking forward to the next one!
AND TO END WITH….HOW DO YOU KEEP PEOPLE ON THEIR TOES?
By innovating! I try never to rest on my laurels, to look ahead and anticipate my co-workers needs. In concrete terms, recently I put a suggestions box in the office. The idea is for all members of staff to put in the suggestions they’d like to see, so that I can then analyse their needs and potentially establish an action plan that responds to their needs. There’s a great working atmosphere, but it’s one that has to be nurtured every day, remaining alert and attentive to my teams. Listening is key!
I am head of Human Resources for the Mégalis project in Brittany. I am in charge of recruitment, employee follow-up, and implementation of the social integration clause (clause d’insertion); I generally respond to all local HR issues.
How did you come to join Axione?
I already worked within the group. I was with Bouygues Construction from 2007. I was head of diversity and equal opportunities when I gained the opportunity to join Axione in 2015 through internal mobility. I was appointed Head of Human Resources for Ile-de-France Nord-Est, then for the Nord Pas-de-Calais rollout project.
Our commitment to the region The Hauts-de-France Digital Public Service Delegation
Has any project in particular stood out to you?
Beginning the project in Nord Pas-de-Calais actually! It was incredible! We had to fully set up two agencies. It was an extraordinary adventure. I’m now setting off for another major endeavour—the Mégalis Bretagne project. This project’s objective is to roll out fibre throughout Brittany as part of phases 2 and 3 of the Ultra-High Speed Brittany (Bretagne Très Haut Débit) project. We have 4 agencies to open and about 300 people to recruit.
What’s your passion?
I’ve always done lots of sport, all kinds, from dance to Krav Maga to cross-training… I finally started to run a few years ago. I immediately enjoyed it, and it helped me to meet other people through group runs. It’s easier running with others than alone—you can support one another!
How often do you train?
If I’m preparing for a race I try to run as much as possible, 3 times a week at least. During the week I try to run for about an hour, but on weekends I’ll do longer. I also do trail running, which lets me see more of the region while doing what I love. Since I arrived in Brittany I’ve done 3 trail runs!
Your best running memory?
La course du cœur!
This is a race that involves teams from numerous companies, and its aim is to raise awareness of organ donation and transplantation. It’s a relay lasting 4 days and 4 nights, starting in Paris and ending at Les Arcs in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, 800km away. A colleague who is a transplant recipient introduced me to this race 3 years ago. Since then, I’ve taken part every year!
What is the atmosphere like at this race?
It’s fantastic, everyone really pushes themselves! But la course du cœur is more than just a sporting event, it is a human experience above all else. Among the participants is a team of transplant recipients and a team of doctors specialising in transplants—we get to chat to them all and it’s really rewarding and emotional. There are also schools with acute awareness of the subject who come out to cheer us on along the way.
Any encounter that stands out as particularly memorable?
I think the first recipient we had, three years ago. He was waiting for a transplant and the day he got back from the race he found out that it was going to happen, it was really moving.
Is there an Axione “course de cœur” team?
For now I’m the only runner from Axione! I take part with two people from Bouygues Energies & Services. Other people from Bouygues Construction take part too. But I shall not despair! I will find other sportsmen and sportswomen so we can put together a full Axione team one day! If some of my colleagues are willing… 🙂