State-owned telephone company Orange has vowed to install satellite phones and wi-fi transmitters in mairies of communes which have had fixed-line telephones cut by storms or accidents.
The government has put increasing pressure on Orange to improve the fixed-line network of copper wires following complaints of neglect.
Fibre-optic cables, which offer higher-speed connections and which can replace copper wires for telephones, are being installed in France much more slowly than expected.
Orange CEO Stéphane Richard pledged that the company would find solutions “within 24 hours” when there were problems with fixed lines.
When entire communes are cut off, satellite wi-fi hotspots will be installed in local mairies to enable people with laptop computers or smartphones to communicate.
Fixed-line telephones are used by many in rural areas as essential back-ups to more fragile ADSL links, which also rely on copper wires.
They are also used by those who do not have mobile phones or who live in areas where mobile phone coverage is patchy. The minister in charge of digital transformation and electronic communication, Cédric O, said that maintaining the copper wire network was a technical challenge but he “would not abandon those French people who depend on the historic network”.
The ministry is working with prefectures to set up local committees to look at problems with fixed lines and mobile connections.
Meanwhile, Orange told Connexion it “did not see a problem” with telephone posts having up to seven wires, instead of the usual one.
“If the wires break, we will repair them, as always,” a spokesman said.
Nationally, the company promised to spend €500million more maintaining copper lines in 2021 than it did last year.