Friday, June 22, 2007

Backyard vs. Street / Jardin vs. Rue

I've been having some discussions offline with several experts the past few days that have been really helpful. They've mainly been about the physical network components and topology. I'll summarize the discussions soon (along with my key findings) but one of the most interesting ideas has been where to put the conduit/cables.

I decided that I wanted to do the project when I heard that all households were being asked to pay roughly EUR 2000 to redo the roads in our "residence". I couldn't think of a better time to put down conduit in the streets to run fiber.

It's never quite that easy though. There are a couple of issues I've run into that I'd never thought about before in my life. For example, I've been going to bed at night thinking about how I could traverse the concrete curbs between the road and the sidewalk which are not scheduled for repair. There is also the question of how we'll dig the trenches too.

One of the options put forward is that I could consider actually running the network through the back gardens of the homes - rather than the streets. There are some interesting possibilities there but also some challenges.

My French friends have explained that France has a long socialist history where people band together. BUT, one area where this does not apply is in housing residences. I saw this in the meeting I attended and can imagine that there may be owners who wouldn't allow us to dig through their gardens.


Benjamin said...


Very interesting project you have, I would be very happy that you success in building your own ftth network.

in fact as you might know the City rules deals with depth of ducts for telecommunications at 80 cm. That explains the huge costs you have.
You might be able to deal with the "Direction des Services Techniques" from the city.
They might be able to find existing ducts or authorize you with other innovating civil engineering technology, example : ducts at 15 cm depth (costs less) by Marais Contracting (
Other possibility which might be interesting for your project : use cleansing conducts (solution Easyfiber from Sogetrel,
In fact I think nothing would be cheaper than deployment through gardens, but more difficult to make all your neighbours agree with this.
Good luck in your project

Anonymous said...

I am not sure the word "socialist" fits well here... Private property, land in particular, is above everything in this country.

btw, I would be surprised if you could easily go dig in someone else's garden in the US. You know what would happen: you'd get a 354 shot direct in the face...

Thierry said...

Hi Tad,

Really interesting project, and I'm glad someone in France is attempting this! A couple of thoughts:

1. As I recall, Lyse Tele, a utility and Triple Play ISP in Norway, is offering its customers "fiber connection kits" that customers can install themselves, including digging in their garden. Seems to be quite successful.

2. There is a local operators interest group run by French regulator Arcep, that may have some useful resources:

Hope this helps,


Tad said...


Thank you for the information. I hadn't realized that I may have to go a full 80 cm deep. One possibility is to look at existing ducts in the area. The cable company has ducts but so must other utilities and France Telecom. My boss at worked passed along the French law which deals with duct sharing. A separate decree gives prices for using ducts under certain conditions.

Now I need to find the information on where the ducts are in our residence, who owns them and if there would be space to pull through our fiber. Thank you as well for the links for the contractors. I'll get in touch with them and report on how it goes.

Tad said...

To Anonymous:

On the private property issue: I think there is a similar feeling here in France when it comes to private property. On one hand people typically seem to work for the good of the group or society as a whole (e.g. many people still support rail/metro strikes even when it disrupts their own travel). However, at the same time people are very protective of their own property. My French colleagues explained that finding agreement in housing associations is very difficult - probably because private property is so personal. I saw this in my own association meeting.

If we go decide to go through the backyards I'm going to have to make a strong case for why we need to dig to each resident. Otherwise we may have see if we would need to bypass houses via the public sidewalk in places.

Tad said...


Thank you for the leads. I've looked at Lyse before for work but was unaware of their DIY fiber kits. I'll get in contact with them and see if I can get some more information.

The link for ARCEP's local operators interest group also seems very promising. Thank you for the tip.