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Localtis (Caisse des Dépôts des Territoires) : Department Seine-et-Marne launches the THD Radio

Source : Localtis le 11/07/2018


In Seine-et-Marne, the 4G LTE network, solution to realise the Presitent of the Republic's will to bring "good internet for all", is launched and has several hundred subscribers. This service, which uses former Wimax radio base stations, targets populations that do not have quality ADSL in territories where fiber is not programmed in the short term.

This is a first in France. In recent weeks, the very high-speed wireless or THD radio operates in several municipalities of Seine-et-Marne. Today, this new network has about 700 subscribers, two-thirds of whom already subscribed to the Wimax network deployed by the Seine et Marne department.


This deployment of THD Radio is a concrete translation of the "good flow for all" desired by the President of the Republic. It falls within the framework set by Arcep on December 11, 2017, announcing the opening of the THD Radio ticket machine (3.4 - 3.8 GHz frequency band). Among the constraints set by the authority: at least 30 Mbit / s downstream and 5 Mbit / s amounts, all guaranteed for 95% of the time. Very quickly, on January 24, 2018, Seine-et-Marne Numérique, the local authority in charge of the digital development in this sector, has deposit a request for using a dedicated frequency until 2026. "This procedure does not ask for an auction, comments Philippe Le Grand, president of the NomoTech group, unlike what was done for Wimax and which could lead some actors to apply for a purely speculative purpose. In the case of the THD Radio, it is the local authority - or its representative - that has the last word: in case of an investisment desire, it gives the possibility of depositing its own project."

RAPIDE and reactive

"Seine-et-Marne Numérique has contacted the Arcep very early to test this technology on its territory which had a WiMax infrastructure," said Dominique Leroy, CEO of Seine-et-Marne Numérique. Potential target: 20,000 subscribers, spread across 142 municipalities (33% of the area of ​​the département) that does not benefit good ADSL or optic fiber before 2019. Concretely,  THD Radio network is based on the former WiMax network - deployed on the territory since 2005 - of which 33 stations have been modernized and activated: only antennas and equipment of final users have changed; current leases and cables, for example, do not move. One-third of the sites are fiber-reinforced in Seine-et-Marne, the operator operates "by rebound" to offer 30 mega per user. The Limoges Fourche site, for example, has 70 users with a potential of 300 (those who have no more than 3 Mbit / s ADSL). The superiority of the radio THD over the Wimax comes, according to the technicians, from the fact that the radio channels are larger (50 MGhz contiguous), with possible channel aggregation: "it is the 4G technology assigned to the fixed". Not to mention the scalability to give the medium-term goal of moving from 30 Mbit / s to 100 Mbit / s for the user. The fixed 5G (with a bit rate of the order of Gbit / s), should not appear before 7 years.

A radical change for users

For users, the fixed 4G (THD Radio) brings a radical change. Sold by two Internet Acces Supplyers, Ozone and Nordnet (Orange subsidiary), it is deployed on the basis of two criteria: poor ADSL performance - "1 Mbit / s when it goes well", explains one of the subscribers - and no acces to optic fiber before a few years. To be eligible to these offers, the user must have a small reception antenna installed (on a roof, a wall, etc.) which receives the signal transmitted by an antenna placed on a high point (connection at sight, for example from a water tower). ). The receiving antenna is connected to a box that creates a private internal network for the user. The installation procedure is done by a simple phone call: the installer checks the technical feasibility on site and then installs an external antenna already configured. The fees are minimal for the user, since the usual budget (about 400 euros) is, almost entirely supported by the State, the internet access provider and the local authority managing the network.

better than a temporary solution ?

According to NomoTech, 10 departments have integrated fixed 4G in their plan for digital developpement. 14 more - inclusing the Burgundy and Auvergne regions for some - have to do so in 2019, which represents 25% of french territory. Most were already using WiMax as an alternative technology. In total, between 20,000 and 30,000 households are targeted per department, at a "marginal cost of 100 euros a take". For its promoters, the THD radio benefits from a favorable context which positions it as a temporary solution ... which could last. The objective set in the THD plan of a national coverage of 84% via optic fiber in 2022 has indeed in their opinion little chance of being held. "If the current dynamics of deployment continues, we would rather move towards an unserved population in FTTH of 11 million people, instead of the initial 5 million expected," says Philippe Le Grand. For all that, is it the definitive solution to fill the gaps? It is based on a system of antennas that "watch each other": this constraint excludes about 5% in Seine-et-Marne for various reasons: forests, hedges, ... and in this case the satellite remains an alternative solution.

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