“As soon as you pass the treetops, the pylon moves”: behind the scenes of an intervention by telecoms firefighters

REPORTAGE – The technicians of the telecom operators are hard at work in all weathers to maintain the networks.

In snowy weather, like now, you need a quad with caterpillar tracks to access the Chaume Sérichamp pylon, in the Vosges. This means of locomotion is essential for Gwenaël Claude and Julien Petro, the two technicians “great height»From Orange. The two men are not going to climb a mountain, but a 60-meter high pylon, which already sits at an altitude of 1140 meters. It may be several kilometers from any home, the site is nonetheless essential to the connection of an entire valley. It is one of those sites which provide both fixed and mobile connection for subscribers.

Gwenaël Claude and Julien Petro, two Orange technicians, are preparing to intervene Boby

The pylon has several antennas. One of them receives a microwave signal which is used to supply the wired network of some 145 homes in the village of Valtin, three businesses and a hotel. Without it, no ADSL at home for these subscribers! The other antennas are used to relay the Orange mobile network in 2G / 3G / 4G. The site is shared with Free and SFR. At the foot of the pylon, a building houses a small telephone exchange, a large generator and its fuel reserve to guarantee the operation of the site, even in the event of a power cut.

Two hours of intervention at 60 meters from the ground

This Wednesday, Gwenaël Claude and Julien Petro must “repointer»The microwave antenna which has shifted slightly under the weight of the snow. With the bad weather in the region, the interventions have almost tripled in recent weeks! However, a simple shift invisible to the naked eye weakens an entire balance. The signal passes less well. “The system automatically compensates to preserve the connection of fixed subscribers, which makes the mobile network a little less efficient», Explains Gwenaël Claude. This former computer scientist, converted into a technician, is one of the few able to perform this type of mission, with his accomplice Julien Petro.

On the site of the intervention Boby

«There, it is very calm, but as soon as you pass the treetops, the pylon moves. More than twenty meters above the ground, there is wind», Jokes Julien Petro. Not enough to stop these two telecom firefighters. Once harnessed, they climb the ladder “not even frosted», In less time than it takes to write it. However, there is no question of joking with security. A lifeline secures the two men during their evolution to several tens of meters in height.

They also prepared their intervention upstream and identified on the ground on which equipment they had to intervene and what handling they had to carry out. But once at the top, a nasty surprise awaits them. While falling, an ice stalactite damaged an antenna, several rivets jumped out. The intervention will take longer than expected.

In the end, it is all smiles as the two men come back downstairs, after having spent nearly two hours repairing and checking the equipment. The weather is getting colder and we still have to come down with all the equipment. “There it was easy, but sometimes we intervene urgently in very difficult conditions, in the rain and the wind», Relates Gwenaël Claude, in no way cooled by the negative temperatures of the day.

The telecoms “firefighters” in intervention

Go to the slideshow (6)

To see also – Cédric O: “5G is beneficial from an environmental point of view”

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