Dissatisfaction is high with France’s fibre internet network, according to a consumer association.
The Association française des utilisateurs de télécommunications (Afutt) said it received seven times more complaints about fibre than mobile networks in 2022, even though the latter had more customers.
It added that consumers complain that fibre connections are poor, and in many cases, there are limits on how many customers can connect, leaving some without access.
The complaints cast doubt on the government’s promise that all homes would have fibre broadband connections in France by 2025, a deadline that coincides with the removal of old copper connections throughout the country.
Service interruptions cause most complaints
Afutt’s report said, “questions of quality and sustainability of fibre optic networks are becoming increasingly obvious and insistent”.
“[Complaints show that more] installation defects are revealed, malfunctions are multiplying,” the report added.
The company that received the most complaints regarding fibre connections was SFR, followed by Orange, Free, and Bouygues.
Around half of all complaints were due to service interruptions for fibre customers, which can leave entire villages cut off, unable to use their computers or landline phones, sometimes for days at a time.
Another particularly damning complaint is that in some areas where fibre connections have been installed, old copper ADSL connections are being dug up and removed completely, despite ongoing connectivity issues with new fibre lines.
With the entire ADSL network slated to be dismantled across France in two years, Afutt says it is necessary to get the fibre plan ‘back on track’, to prevent further aggravations.
Fibre has been installed across France at a higher rate, as part of the government’s plan to introduce fibre connectivity to every house in the country, a joint public-private partnership, costing around €20 billion.
‘Like musical chairs’
Something that causes the connection blackouts is the subcontracting of the final few metres of installation, from main lines to individual houses, according to Afutt vice-president Pierre-Yves Hébert.
Subcontractors are paid to connect a fixed number of households, so when connecting a new subscriber, will disconnect an existing one, even if they have done nothing wrong, he claims.
‘It’s like a game of musical chairs,’ added Mr Hébert.