In 2002, SOFICO was entrusted with the management and development of Wallonia's optical fibre network. This network now constitutes approximately 4,000 kilometres of cables and covers the whole of Wallonia, Brussels and a small part of Flanders (Gand and Anvers mainly). The backbone of this network runs mainly along Wallonia's main highways and waterways.
This optical fibre is used to :
- Manage traffic dynamically on the waterways and motorways while meeting the new needs of intelligent motorways;
- Deploy optical fibre in areas with low profitability;
- Provide broadband access through telecommunication operators to connect their private customers, SME, health care sectors, administrations, etc.
Since 2002, several sectors have benefited from the optical fibre network managed by SOFICO :
MARCH 2017 - A new direct optical fibre link deployed between Brussels and Paris: 7 km between Saint-Ghislain and the border at Hensies by SOFICO and 58 km by SANEF in France.
What is an optical fibre ?
An optical fibre is a glass fibre, thinner than a human hair, surrounded by a plastic sheath that is able to conduct light.
Data is transmitted from one point to another via a light wave (similar to infra-red). This light beam can carry large quantities of data at very high speeds over long distances – hundreds and even thousands of kilometres – without any data loss or interferences.
A new strategic telecommunications plan for the optical fibre network, called Digital Plan, was presented in October 2017. The following conclusions were reached :
- Companies’ connectivity needs to be improved;
- Revenue needs to be increased by adapting the offering and prices while maintaining a high level of quality;
- The Walloon Region needs a better broadband coverage with fixed and mobile networks;
- The optical fibre network is important in the management of the structuring network and the integration of the ITS, and also in the management of waterways.
Within this context, SOFICO has organised its Digital Plan into three main objectives which are included in the 2018-2024 Walloon Investment Plan :
- Objective 1: Continue deploying the optical fibre network (118 km along the structuring network and 147 km along the waterways)
- Objective 2: Consolidate SOFICO’s position as a connectivity provider
- Objective 3: Capitalise on the experience and organisation of SOFICO to facilitate the deployment and management of optical fibre networks in areas with the lowest profitability, especially in relation to Walloon companies, by bringing the optical fibre to 131 industrial estates, and also by supporting mobile operators in the development of their 4G and 5G networks.