“Digital technology represents a powerful tool for regional inclusion.”

Laure de La Raudière, MP for the 3rd constituency of Eure-et-Loir, France​

People living in rural areas have the same needs as those living in urban centres. It’s nothing new to say that it is an absolute necessity to ensure equal access to the internet and mobile telephone network across regions. Just over 10 years ago, when we started deploying fibre cables in built-up, highly populated areas, I called on the government to turn their approach on its head and prioritise rural communities where internet connections were already weakest due to the length of the lines. We’ve made significant progress over recent years, helped in part by the Public Initiative Networks, such as the one put in place in Eure-et-Loir by the local authority in collaboration with Orange. Nowadays, as mobile coverage still suffers from too many black spots, the upcoming deployment of 5G must seek to provide an identical high quality service to the entire country. By connecting people, encouraging the emergence of new kinds of remote working and paving the way to a new economy, inclusive digital technology offers a genuine opportunity to help resolve regional development issues and overturn rural isolation. Major digital companies and politicians must continue to work together to achieve this goal.

Through its purpose, Orange has pledged to give “everyone the keys to a responsible digital world”. This promise needs to be brought to life starting with the CEO and management team and extending all the way out through employees, including those on the front line dealing with customers and sub-contractors. As a long-standing operator and a local outfit that is trusted by individuals and businesses alike, Orange has the means and the will to conduct this project successfully.

Laurent Bigorgne, “It’s up to businesses to foster the necessary conditions for change.”

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