Powerful new inter-departmental telecoms network

Two departments in south-eastern France have joined forces to launch a major new telecommunications project. The goal is to roll out a modern network offering fast broadband to more than 700 communes and to end the ‘digital divide’ in remoter areas.

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The project will build an inter-departmental telecoms network in the Ardèche and Drôme. When completed, it should cover an area of more than 12 000 square kilometres.

Comprehensive new network

Some European regions find themselves struggling to be competitive or to develop due to a lack of modern telecoms infrastructure. A 2005 survey in the French departments Ardèche and Drôme highlighted just such a problem, in an area that in total is home to some 750 000 people and 68 000 businesses.

To meet this challenge, the two departments have formed a joint association (Syndicat Mixte Ardèche Drôme Numérique) to pool their resources and expertise with a view to developing an inter-departmental telecoms network. The goal is to encourage digital development within their territories, and especially to provide better telecoms coverage in certain dead zones that are poorly served by today’s operators. This will enable local businesses and households to enjoy improved telecoms coverage and faster connections.

Co-funded by the EU, this inter-departmental network will include some 2 000 km of fibre-optics infrastructure, linking the two departments’ cities and larger towns with remoter areas on their territory. This will for example enable high-speed last-mile digital subscriber lines (DSL) and direct fibre connections to key economic and residential areas. Areas that cannot be easily reached by fixed networks will be provided with wireless connections, calling on 40 radio masts or VSAT satellite links.

No more telecoms ‘dead zones’

Neatly dovetailing with the Rhône-Alpes region’s ‘regional competitiveness and employment’ operational programme, the project will create an inter-departmental network covering more than 700 communes. It will offer high-speed telecoms to their entire population and is expected to create some 24 new jobs during the operational phase.

The fibre-optics connections will include some 210 France Télécom subscriber connection nodes, over 210 business areas, and three metropolitan networks (Valence, Rovaltain, Romans sur Isère). The network will also be linked to a network in the Loire department and offer three connection points that will enable further network optimisation through links to exterior technical platforms.

The network will rely on Ethernet/MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) technologies for its bandwidth, data connections and connectivity services. Its core speed is expected to be 10 Gbit/second.

Draft date

16/12/2010