MegaProject 1210: Covage signs US$490 million broadband PPP in France
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The infrastructure operator Covage has signed a PPP contract with the Department of Hérault for the deployment and commercialisation of a fibre-optic network in the areas of the department, located in the Occitanie region in the south of France, not covered by private broadband operators.
Hérault Digital is the name of the THD (Très haut débit - very high speed) network to be built by Covage via the special purpose company Hérault THD. The network will cover 255,000 homes and businesses, and will be fully installed in five years. Hérault THD will be responsible for its design, construction, commercialisation and operation for a period of 25 years.
Covage and its financial partners will invest more than EUR350 million (US$489.45 million), more than 90% of the costs, to carry out the project.
The developer plans to install optical fibre in 15,000 homes and businesses in 2018, and a further 60,000 between 2019 and 2022. Overall, up to 675 jobs will be mobilized for the construction of the network and its maintenance as well as for the connections of the inhabitants.
The network deployed by Hérault THD will be open to all operators, alternative and national. Covage already operates six fibre-optic networks in Occitania, which host thirty public and professional operators. The company thus has substantial expertise to offer the Department of Herault.
This partnership is the result of two years of studies and negotiations. Covage plans to invest 130,000 hours into the project.
Pascal Rialland, Covage CEO, said:
"Covage is preparing to build and operate the last fiber-optic network needed for all of the department's broadband coverage. The first Herault individuals will be connected by the end of the year to fiber optics. We are delighted that the Department has renewed its confidence in assisting us in this final phase of the Total Coverage project. "
With Digital Hérault, the Department wishes to restore fairness, ensuring all Hérault residents be connected to high speed broadband via optical fiber. It is hoped that the project will stimulate economic development in rural areas, through providing inhabitants easy access to "e-services".
The project will allow the Department to support the ambitions of France's Very High Speed Plan. Launched in spring 2013, the plan (Plan France Très Haut Débit) calls for bringing very high-speed broadband service to every home, business and government office in France by 2022. It is sponsored by the French government's Digital Agency (L'Agence du Numérique). The agency plan to invest EUR20 billion (US$24.6 billion) in its implementation over a 10-year period through private service providers, local authorities and the government.