Deployment of fiber: Digital Channel towards mediation

The conflict between the company Manche Numérique and the company Nomotech could be concluded by mediation. (© La Presse de la Manche)

The administrative tribunal of Caen looked, this Wednesday, November 18, on the appeal filed by Broadband Channel. This company, responsible for operating the “very good wireless speed” network in the department, requested the termination of its public service delegation and presented a claim for compensation.

Sector coverage difficulties

As a reminder, the Manche Numérique mixed union, created in 2004, wanted to ensure that the “white and gray areas” of the territory are covered by a more efficient network. At the end of 2014, the union had appointed to this effect the company Nomotech, replaced by Manche Haut Débit, as delegatee and network operator.

The agreement signed between the two parties at the time was to extend over fifteen years. But due to difficulties in covering the sector, the specialized company demanded the end of this partnership in January 2018. A request refused by the departmental union.

According to the public rapporteur, “the viability” of the public service delegation was called into question in 2015, in particular due to delays in the schedule. The entire network should have been commissioned that year. However, the reception of the first sites “did not take place until the end of November 2015”. A year later, 45% of the initially planned network was in service.

Strong operating losses

The rapporteur specified that the company was to record commercial revenue of three million euros from 2018, an amount that was to be maintained for the following five years, before declining depending on the deployment of the fiber. Instead, Manche Haut Débit recorded colossal operating losses, in the order of one million euros for 2017 alone, for example.

“It is clear that from 2018, this initial scenario had lapsed”, commented the magistrate. “The company had no other prospect than to accumulate operating losses, and losses itself. “The latter considered that, even if it” cannot be exonerated from any fault in the deployment “, the company has grounds for claiming compensation, in particular because of “delays in the delivery of network infrastructures and their too many failures”.

Ensure a transition

The public rapporteur – whose opinions are generally followed by the judges – called for the termination of the contract to take place on June 30, 2021. A postponement in time which could allow the parties to “take stock of the existing “, To ensure” the transition to another operator “and to avoid” a break in service “for users”.

Rather than deciding on the compensation component, he also recommended that the two actors discuss this aspect with the help of a mediator, because the documents in the file do not allow, as they stand, to fix the amount of compensation.

The administrative court of Caen has reserved its judgment. He is expected to make his decision known in about two weeks.

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