Fiber optics, a key infrastructure to contribute to the performance of companies
The digital transformation of companies and regions is a key challenge for their development. Since its creation, Axione has been working to put connectivity at the service of the digital transformation of territories.
Fabien Gevaert, Axione’s Director of Strategy, explains how fibre optics is the major infrastructure, in terms of quality and durability, for meeting the current and future telecoms needs of all businesses.
What about digital transformation in France? What about companies?
The digital transformation of the territories continues at an incredible speed, in the logical continuation of the France Very High Speed Plan. The problems of infrastructure and access to very high speed are on the way to being resolved, since the majority of territories will be covered almost 100% by optical fiber from 2025. If the general public massively adopts this new infrastructure, if the communities, stakeholders in this Plan, are now looking forward by working on the advent of new uses and digital tools aimed at improving the lives of our fellow citizens, in areas as varied as health, education, mobility… it is clear that the movement is not as dynamic on the business market.
According to the European Commission, France is lagging behind in the digital transformation of its companies. In the latest edition of its index relating to the digital economy and society (published in January 2022), it ranks France in 19th place among other European countries. However, telecom infrastructures are well and truly deployed in France, both in dense and less dense areas. The figures recently published by ARCEP, the independent regulatory authority for the sector, show that more than 2 thirds of our companies are still connected via a copper link, a historic infrastructure in the process of being dismantled!
In terms of telecoms, France is therefore a land of paradoxes:
– We have an extremely developed ecosystem of specialized service operators for companies with varied characteristics (nearly 200 operators are now customers of our networks in this segment);
– We have a widely deployed fiber infrastructure, widely adopted in the private sphere;
– However, our companies remain, at this stage, behind in the modernization of their connectivity.
The good news, as you will have understood, is that all the lights are green to speed up!
What are the advantages of fiber optics over copper?
Previously, companies could be blocked in their digital transformation. Simply because the first step, connectivity, was technically limited because of the copper network. Optical fiber is much more efficient in terms of connection than ADSL. Indeed, the speed for a connection with the fiber is at least 300 Mbits per second, when for ADSL, it is between 1 and 15 Mbits per second. For example, the transfer of a hundred photos takes about 5 minutes with ADSL, but only 28 seconds with fiber. This is nowadays limiting – even for a simple internet use – and especially not scalable. Independently of the use, copper accesses are more complex to repair in case of failure.
To access a more efficient offer, companies had no choice but to use dedicated fiber networks. Generally very expensive, and mainly present in large urban centers, with the exception of public initiative networks. These networks have allowed to bring fiber to the territories, and to democratize its use by companies. Without them, the situation would be even worse.
Today, fiber is everywhere and accessible to all. The telecom infrastructure no longer poses any constraints in the digital transformation of companies. It accompanies them in their development. If their telecom needs increase because their structure is growing, or if they wish to launch a new activity, fiber connectivity can be adapted: increase in speed, addition of service guarantee options with your provider…
Last but not least, optical fiber is the sustainable infrastructure for at least the next 40 years, unlike copper which will gradually disappear. More efficient, more stable and less energy consuming than copper access, fiber access is the connectivity solution of the future.
What is Axione’s role in the fibre-optic market?
Axione occupies an atypical position in the market. Our history as a builder/operator of public-initiative networks for almost 20 years has led us to develop strong values around neutrality, quality and the co-construction of solutions, both with our public partners and with our operator customers. These solutions are long term and focus on the common interest of the territories in which we operate.
Our DNA has not changed: as a digital developer of territories, our role is to facilitate the link between an end customer (individual, company or community) and the commercial operator who will provide the service he needs, always with the same requirement of quality.
Infrastructure is a common good that must benefit everyone. It is therefore up to us to mobilize the appropriate resources to enable the entire chain to benefit from a quality infrastructure. What matters to the end customer, and in particular to the company, is that the service they have subscribed to is delivered, regardless of the underlying infrastructure.
This is what we strive to do on a daily basis.
How do you deploy your connectivity solutions?
To date, Axione has covered around 6 million fiber connections, half in rural areas and half in very dense areas. In practical terms, this means that we are now the manager of the telecoms access infrastructure in some 20 French departments, at least for the next 20 years. In cities such as Paris, Nantes, Bordeaux and Grenoble, we also have network coverage enabling us to offer access solutions to commercial operators.
We rely on 100% Axione teams, both for our field operations (thanks to the presence of operational staff working throughout France) and for the supervision of our network, in particular with a Network Operating Center (NOC) based in Pau. This center monitors the networks we operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have our own engineering teams and a network mirror lab. We are also actively working on a daily basis with our operator customers to improve the efficiency of our processes and we are fully committed to the objective of continuous improvement advocated by the regulator.
We already offer our operator customers connectivity solutions adapted to their needs and we are working to develop them further as necessary. For example, our range of activated accesses called OPERA is based on three products targeting three types of needs:
-The OPERA Home offer, close to the so-called “general public” offers, characterized by an access offering a lot of downstream speed, mainly targeting professionals and craftsmen;
-The OPERA Office offer, designed for an intermediate market: high downstream speed, 100 Mbps symmetrical guaranteed and a 10-hour recovery guarantee in case of failure for a telecom budget of less than €200. This offer, which is just starting to be marketed, seems to us to be particularly well suited to convincing SMEs to switch to fiber!
-The OPERA Business offer is more oriented towards high-end needs: guaranteed symmetrical speeds of up to 1 Gbps and a 4-hour recovery guarantee in case of failure. Our ability to produce this offer on shared networks allows us to offer it at the best price to our partners, while respecting our commitments.
By relying on our local roots, the professionalism of our teams and our technological mastery, we try to assume our role on a daily basis and with humility to meet the promised quality.
Why was it important to offer a complete range?
Our goal is to give as many people as possible access to these latest generation fiber networks.
Many companies are still on the copper network, especially intermediate companies. The premium fiber offers were considered too expensive by this type of company. As for the entry-level fiber offer, they felt that it did not meet their quality needs. Today, our Office range is aimed directly at this intermediate market.
Gaining in speed and recovery guarantee becomes accessible to SMEs, in an economy close to that of copper. In addition, our ability to guarantee premium service levels on a shared infrastructure will enable them in the medium term to access a better telecom service for a preserved budget. That’s the whole point of network sharing!
In the end, we are moving in the same direction as ARCEP, which is determined to make the new fiber infrastructure a reference for all uses.
Lastly, we believe that commercial operators should be able to find a complete, functionally uniform range of services from Axione that is accessible to as wide a catchment area as possible. We are therefore working to continually expand our coverage area.
Megalis Bretagne and Axione are taking advantage of work to modernize the drinking water network linking Callot Island to Carantec, in North Finistère, to install the ducts required for the rollout of Brittany’s public fiber optic network. During the worksite, trenches will be dug to upgrade the water pipes. We will take advantage of this to install ducts, via the teams of our subcontractor TPC Ouest. This work, which is subject to tide schedules, illustrates our ability to adapt to all environments.
Thanks to this mutualization of the water network/fiber network work, we are thus anticipating the arrival of fiber throughout Brittany. Our teams have been working daily to ensure good communication between all the players, particularly with the town of Carantec and the concessionaire responsible for the work on the water network.
This project demonstrates the excellent coordination between Axione, the local authorities and the water connection company. It is essential to be able to pool our work for better optimization of public resources
Alexandre VALENTIN, Axione works coordinator
In Brittany, Axione has been awarded the contract to design and build Megalis Bretagne. By 2026, our teams will have installed nearly one million connections in the region
During their holidays, our French, Anglo-Saxon and Gabonese employees stay connected around the world whether they are on a mountain top, in the water, in their garden or in the field.
Discover the most beautiful shots of our employees on video ⬇️
Teams from Axione’s Aix-en-Provence branch had to act quickly to restore the site’s radio infrastructure.
On July 31, 2022, the Mazaugues radio site was hit by a fire that damaged the radio equipment used by Bouygues Telecom. After noting the technical damage caused, Bouygues Telecom asked Axione to restore service at the site. By taking photos and conducting a technical visit, our four Axione employees were able to gain an early insight into the damage suffered and the repairs required.
Several cables affected by the flames had to be changed, and the radio beam had to be restored. The intervention of two technicians specialised in radio-relay systems was therefore necessary. The radio beam link could only be re-established after changing the entire feeder line and the transmission equipment: replacement of the ODU (Outdoor unit) and the IDU (Indoor unit), provided urgently by Bouygues Telecom. The replacement of the existing burnt radio cables required the intervention of two other technicians.
As of Friday, August 5, 2022 at around 5 pm, the site was once again operational to broadcast 2G, 3G and 4G.
The rapid response and quality of the repairs carried out by our teams deserve to be highlighted in view of the emergency context. Many Mazauguais residents came to see our teams to express their satisfaction with how the black-out was handled.
Eric STRAGA, Head of Lessor Works & Special Projects at Axione.
Concerned about the quality of service provided to the territories, Bouygues Télécom called on Axione to restore service at the site. This project demonstrates the commitment of the Bouygues Telecom and Axione teams to help develop a high-performance network in the most remote areas.
The local authority of Nantes Métropole has awarded NOVAE a public service delegation contract to build and operate a new heating network across its territory.
NOVAE aims to develop innovative and connected solutions for this network, in order to optimise its way of operating at different levels:
Economically: control of consumption, investments and operating costs,
Environmentally: integrating energy from renewable sources,
Societally: offering users new services and making the network more reliable.
Afin de mettre en œuvre ces solutions innovantes et de déployer un véritable Smart Grid thermique, depuis 2020, NOVAE s’appuie sur les équipes d’Axione Nantes pour le déploiement d’un réseau fibre optique pour ce nouveau réseau intelligent.
Le tirage de câble est effectué en portage à l’air ou à l’eau d’une sous-station à une autre dans les conduites PEHD (polyéthylène haute densité) posées en parallèle des conduites de chauffage.
Ce projet illustre notre savoir-faire : nous avons su mettre nos compétences techniques au service du client pour l’accompagner sur toute les phases Etudes et Travaux, en étant force de proposition. Il a également fallu faire preuve d’adaptation pour respecter les délais impartis.
Stéphane Clavier, Chef de projet télécom à l’agence Ouest (Rezé).
L’objectif : interconnecter l’ensemble des automates des sous-stations et des chaufferies permettant de superviser en temps réel le réseau de chaleur de 55 km. Au total, plus de 10 000 logements, bâtiments tertiaires et publics seront connectés sur le réseau.
Le Smart Grid Thermique au service des villes connectées
Une innovation pour les grandes villes puisque la consommation énergétique dans les communes est optimisée, permettant une réduction de la facture pour les usagers et la collectivité. Un véritable cercle vertueux pour une utilisation plus efficiente de l’énergie.
A travers ce projet, nos collaborateurs participent à la mise en œuvre d’une énergie plus locale et à 80% renouvelable.
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Digital has assumed an essential role in our everyday lives, in sectors ranging from health, to education, to economics and mobility and even public services. And, because a growing number of services, both public and private are now more easily accessible by internet, it is essential to provide relevant answers so that all regions have access to digital services. This is precisely what Axione offers, as a global player in digital infrastructures. Eric Jammaron, Chairman of Axione comments.
Discover the interview of Eric Jammaron
Our local branches, located throughout France, carry Axione’s values and commitments. This is why our employees have opportunities to get involved in various causes that are close to their hearts in line with our commitments.
On Friday 20 May, our Toussieux branch in Lyon offered its employees the chance to donate blood.
The employees were offered this action a few weeks beforehand with the possibility of registering in order to go as a group to the establishment that received the donors.
Ten brave employees found time to go and agreed to volunteer for this good deed.👏
Thanks to the network deployed by our subsidiary Lotim Télécom, the operator DSTNY provides access to connectivity services to its client, the Mutualité française de la Loire, a public health organisation based in Saint-Etienne.
Interview with DSTNY and Mutualité Loire Haute-Loire Puy De Dôme
1 – Present your respective companies and their background
IP Line was founded in 2004. We provide various services for our customers: publishing cloud communication solutions, BtoB operator, hosting sensitive data, and protecting the digital assets of medium-sized and large companies. In its early days as a start-up with ten or so employees, the company was awarded the Pépites de la Métropole de Lyon label in 2012 and began to ramp up in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, with the headcount rising from 20 to 40 to meet the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and intermediate companies seeking 24/7 access to technical support. Destiny France has 180 staff in Paris, Lyon, Nantes and Tours, with revenue of €48 million in 2021, generated by Destiny France companies and Destiny France partners. When we joined DSTNY Group in 2021, we had 80 employees.
In 2022, we are now part of a European group with 750 staff across 7 countries. The group aims to become the European leader in cloud-based unified communications.
Franck Dunière, Head of major accounts for operator DSTNY France (formerly IP Line)
La Mutualité française Loire – Haute Loire – Puy-de-Dôme Services de Soins et d’Accompagnement Mutualistes (SSAM – Mutual Care and Support Services) is a French social welfare player. With more than 90 locations in the Loire, Haute Loire and Puy-de-Dôme regions, our private, not-for-profit organisation offers a range of care and services
Nadine Favier, Head of IT and organisation Mutualité Française Loire – Haute-Loire – Puy-de-Dôme
The services deployed by the Mutualité de la Loire :
Medical and surgical clinic
Aftercare and rehabilitation
Assisted accommodation for elderly people and retirement homes
Home hospital care and services
Residential and support services for the disabled
Pharmacies and medical equipment
2- How long have you been working with Axione? How could it be said that you are partners?
We have been working with Axione for about 10 years in the Loire region.
Axione provides dependable infrastructure so that service operators can deliver a seamless, high-quality network to customers. This gives us a modern network supplier, operating throughout France, yet still with a local presence.
Franck Dunière – DSTNY France
3-What is the role and mission of the operator? How do Axione’s services affect your offering?
An operator’s mission is to provide its clients with a reliable, high-quality network by assisting them from the consulting phase right through to operating their network. Depending on the client’s needs, we can offer solutions to technically develop this network. The different regions where we deploy our connectivity services need to be interconnected, powerful and readily available to ensure the service levels expected by customers.
“Bifurcation” is the theme of the 12th Saint-Etienne Design Biennial from 6 April to 31 July 2022, a major cultural event in France and Europe since 1998. March 2020 saw a major shift in the way we live, work and function. Since then, we have undergone a radical bifurcation. Designers, researchers, economic players, intellectuals, students, art lovers and anyone interested are expected to take part in a large-scale artistic event (7 exhibitions spanning 4,000 m²) aimed at questioning how design is practiced and experimenting with its methods. As major players in the digital bifurcation in France, Adista and Axione are digital partners of the event.
Synergy between infrastructure operators and service operators supporting the digital “Bifurcation”
“Our lives are a series of forks in the road, or “bifurcations” constantly influenced by events that take us in different directions. “Whether sought or endured, expected or unforeseen, these forks in the road set the pace for our activities and shape our societies”. [12th International Design Biennial].
While there is an undeniable and noticeable bifurcation at the professional and personal levels, the digital one was imposed by the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. A new direction had to be explored: that of new uses, new tools, new modes of communication, with one of the most notable features being the mass adoption of telework. Contemplating digital divergence is the very essence of Adista’s and Axione’s business, which is why the two companies have partnered with the 12th International Design Biennial.
Axione has established itself as a leading player in the deployment of digital infrastructure as part of the France Très Haut Débit plan. The company designs, builds and operates the infrastructure essential to the development of digital uses by supporting the regions in their Public Initiative Network projects.
The confidence shown in Axione by local authorities and service operators has already resulted in the deployment of 2.8 million FttH connections throughout France. Its fibre optic networks now cover more than 6,500 districts and 2,500 business parks
Patrick Pedron, Corporate Sales Director at Axione
Adista has been a major user of Axione’s networks since 2006. This partnership has been strengthened as technology has evolved. “The deployment of Axione’s BLOM (Mutualised Local Optical Loop) enabled Adista to broaden its range of services in 2019 with FttH (Fiber to the Home) and FttE (Fiber to the Enterprise), thereby extending fibre optic connectivity to a very large number of businesses (large, medium-sized and the smallest),” explains Amine Gasmi, Head of Telecoms Connectivity Offers.
As with every Biennial, Adista is partnering with Axione to provide very high-speed access to enable this event to be in direct contact with the whole world thanks to a 100% guaranteed and secure 1Gb fibre. This year Adista is also providing the WiFi network to guarantee the security and speed that this event needs with 6 WiFi terminals deployed.
Mathieu Denarié, Adista Business Engineer
We are a long-standing partner of this event, which highlights the city of Saint-Etienne. For LOTIM Télécom and Axione, it is essential to combine our expertise and technical skills with the Adista operator to serve a major cultural event in our region.
David Daroussin, Director of LOTIM Télécom
Designing a digital environment that addresses sustainable development issues
Another bifurcation to which society must commit itself today is to develop in tune with environmental and societal issues. The very nature of Adista and Axione’s activities directly impacts the vibrancy and vitality of the regions, the narrowing of the digital divide and social inclusion.
Axione was created in 2003 in response to the digital development of the regions following the French Digital Confidence Act. Its business plan is based on its ability to design, build and operate infrastructure to promote the widest possible access to and use of digital services. Axione is constantly innovating for the regions, their inhabitants and their businesses.
The company is committed to pursuing digital deployment while encouraging initiatives to optimise its energy consumption (e.g. supplying green electricity to 90 of its branches in France) and recycling equipment and materials (e.g. donating wooden reels for fibre optic cables). In 2020, its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts were awarded a Platinum label by EcoVadis (the leading organisation for rating social and environmental performance) with a score of 74/100.
Meanwhile, Adista is experiencing strong growth that it strives to make as environmentally friendly as possible and respectful of its eco-system. The Adista Group, which is now the leading competitor to the incumbent operators, is determined to become the benchmark in terms of CSR. It has embarked on an ambitious action plan in collaboration with its staff and partners. Adista aims to establish itself as a socially responsible company that listens to its workforce, by getting involved in social and environmental initiatives in the regions following the consultation (currently underway) of its employees as part of collaborative projects. These same staff have also been made aware of the challenges of sustainable development.
Aware of its responsibility as a major player in the digital sector, the company, which has been awarded the Responsible Digital Enterprise label several times, is taking several steps to reduce its carbon footprint and that of its customers, such as reusing equipment and extending its lifespan. Adista has also announced the implementation of a datacentre powered solely by renewable energy from the conversion of agricultural bio-waste, a first in the datacentre world.
The 12th International Design Biennial: a connected event
The event’s connectivity and digital support needs are colossal and depend on the match between Axione’s design and deployment of telecommunications infrastructures, and Adista as a national operator of hosted services. For the 2022 event, Axione’s subsidiary LOTIM Télécom is installing a dedicated fibre link which will be secured by the internet service provider Adista. Axione’s teams also monitor the network in real time to ensure a speed of one Gigabit per second throughout the event, with no interruptions or network failures.
Access to very high speed broadband will allow the press to provide real-time media coverage of the inauguration on 6 April by relaying articles, photos and videos at the press conference. For around 4 months, attendees will also benefit from an optimal connection, and make the most of the fibre that is being specially installed for this 12th International Design Biennial.
More information about the Biennial
Since 1998, the École Régionale des Beaux-arts de Saint-Étienne has been hosting the International Design Biennial in Saint-Étienne. This event has become a fixture in the design calendar. Supported by the city of Saint-Étienne and the Saint-Étienne region, it is attended by designers, researchers, economic players, intellectuals, students, art lovers and curious people from all over the world. With the backing of its public and private partners, the biennials, produced and managed by the Cité du Design, encourage confrontation between the innovations generated by schools, major studios, independent designers, broadcasters, companies and a wide variety of audiences. This 12th event on the theme of the “Bifurcation” will run for 4 months, from April 6 to July 31, 2022, with 7 exhibitions spread over 4,000m² and with over 200,000 visitors expected.
The Cap Fibre project is a typical example of efficient digital infrastructures, opening up access to digital technology while taking into consideration the societal and environmental challenges of their ecosystem.
DEPLOYMENT OF OPTICAL FIBRE: A FIRST CHALLENGE MET
The deployment of digital infrastructures to support the digital revolution has been a European and national priority for overten years.
Fibre to the home has been identified as the most efficient technology for bringing very high speed broadband to the population while limiting energy consumption – if compared to copper networks – and with lower maintenance costs than alternative technologies.
Numerous technological, human and financial challenges had to be overcome to transform a strategic and political will into a reality on the ground, and enable the deployment of infrastructure, particularly in rural areas.
With the Plan France Très Haut Débit, France has put in place a legal and regulatory framework, involving both public and private players, which enables it to achieve its ambitious objective of connecting all its citizens.
The Cap Fibre project is a typical example of efficient digital infrastructure, opening up access to digital technology while taking into account the societal and environmental challenges of their ecosystem.
CAP FIBRE AN EXAMPLE OF A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS
The Hauts-de-France Regional Council and the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments have decided to implement a proactive policy for the deployment of very high-speed broadband (VHS) via optical fibre in areas not covered by operators.
THE IMPACT OF THE USE OF FIBRE MUST BE CONSIDERED NOT ONLY FROM AN ECONOMIC BUT ALSO FROM A SOCIETAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL POINT OF VIEW
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, digitalisation is seen as an essential tool and a lever for innovation, but also as potentially amplifying the social divide and increasing energy consumption. The role of the public authority and private actors is to ensure that, once deployed, connectivity will have positive long-term effects, contributing to improving the lives of citizens and the competitiveness of businesses, and supporting the fight against climate change.
These are the objectives that CAP Fibre, the Hauts-de-France Region and the Nord and Pas-de-Calais Departments have set themselves.
THE IMPACT OF THE USE OF FIBRE OPTICS MUST BE CONSIDERED NOT ONLY FROM AN ECONOMIC BUT ALSO FROM A SOCIETAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL POINT OF VIEW
The urgency of climate change has been described by a number of scientific reports and research (including the latest IPCC report). Around 70% of greenhouse gas emissions are directly related to the construction and operation of infrastructure such as buildings and transport networks. This figure cannot be ignored by public authorities, industry and investors, who are committed to playing their part in moving towards sustainable solutions. Infrastructure is defined as sustainable when it meets the needs of the population for essential services, based on principles centred on six key objectives.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the Paris Agreement.
Contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy and the decarbonisation of energy supply.
Promote high standards of energy efficiency.
Be resilient and help protect against extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Consider climate change risks in its design, maintenance and operation.
Reduce vulnerability to the risks and impacts of climate change