Telephone and internet failure: in Hérault, Labeil’s restaurants and grottoes are cut off from the world

Phones got pretty bad and the lines kept dropping regularly. Gilles Sagnes, owner of the Labeil cave and restaurant in Laroux was furious.

Located between Lodévois and Larzac, in the commune of Laroux, the hamlet of Labeil is regularly cut off from the world. And the restaurateurs and cave tourists can’t take it anymore! Two months before the opening and launch of his season, a final repair of his landline by operator Orange allowed him to have the phone for three days, before another failure.

Essential for professional activity

“This is a longstanding problem for about ten years nowvent, exasperated, Gilles Sagnes. During the work, several hundred meters of cables were left in the ground along the way. While that lasted and since then, there have been regular cuts or interruptions.”. The problem has worsened since last summer, after an act of vandalism in which three poles were torn off leaving an additional 500m of cables in the ground beneath the hamlet.

“Since then I spent time calling Orange and reporting the outage, when I did get one.” Reply to voicemail too. “Here we have a very weak mobile network and little to no 4G”. Therefore, the telephone remains very important for professional activities. “I had to do emergency repairs myself to get the phone last summer”. Despite the intervention, the problem persists.

“We open on March 15th, the cave is 20,000 entries per year. We have seasons, 60 to 80 calls per day for reservation or information”. With restaurants and shops, that too 160 credit card transactions per day, “with one line that worked badly and an old machine that model no longer exists”added who created and developed tourist attractions in the hamlet with his family, 35 years ago. “It’s also 7 to 8 jobs in the summer. Not to mention I can’t do my administrative procedures online. I have them done by my accountant at Clermont-l’Hérault”.

“VIP Customer”

On the city hall side, we are desperate. “Complicated. It penalized the commercial activities of Labeil and other citizens. The problem is not addressed in its entirety.stressed Mayor Jean-Paul Pailhoux. We also try to call operators who show goodwill. But the intervention was not effective. It works again, but you never know for how long.”

Operators are also aware of the problem. “The network is very old, in a natural setting. But we closely follow Mr. Sagnes, considered a VIP client”says Sandrine Sbert, communications manager at Orange. “We replace damaged cards in the cupboard. On the other hand, there is still a problem of vegetation around the cables causing frying and cutting. Our trimming manager will go to the site to see what can be done while waiting for the fiber to arrive, the best solution, given the site configuration.”

Fiber will solve all problems

What is the solution to the phone problem and the white zone north of Laroux, in the hamlet and tourist area of ​​Labeil? Repeat all wired network below? Gilles Sagnes hesitated. Install relay antenna for cell phone?

“I lent my land at the entrance of the cave, there is space and all the facilities,” continued the owner. Spreading fiber, present 3 kilometers higher in Causse, in the hamlet of Seats? “It will solve all the problems, and it will change our lives”, admits the operator who has taken steps in this direction with the Department.

“I had the impression that everyone was missing money, I opened on March 15th. We are tired of the development of tourism, with digital technologies and we, meanwhile, are trying to work normally. ”

And to add: “We just made a big hiking site right next to it, we also have a hiking trail that passes nearby, hunters…and no phones.”

Asked, the sub-prefect of Lodève and the project team from the Department of Hérault followed the fiber project. “There was a problem with the low-voltage power line supplying Labeil”, sub-prefect Éric Suzanne explained.

“We have to wait for Enedis’ safety work before we can use the fiber. We are aware of the tourist issue and we have requested, with the Departmental project team, Enedis to work on this file immediately”.

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