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France - Internet

There are a number of telecommunications companies in France which provide internet services and these are usually as part of a package with your phone line. Subscription costs will vary but there are usually reduced rates for new customers for the first few months of the subscription, particularly if you choose a package rather than a single service.

France has one of the lowest rates in Europe of internet users so in some areas the need for broadband has yet to catch on, although residents of the cities are opting for this more and more now, particularly with the newer technologies that are becoming available.

Not everybody in France will be able to have a broadband internet connection. This will depend largely on the area that you live in and accessibility. In order to find out if your area can receive this service you can check on the France Telecom website, which has a map which will tell you all you need to know. Other websites such as www.ariase.com also have this service, although the website is in French.

It is not compulsory to have your internet services connected to the phone line services. This is normally only available in urban areas and different suppliers will have different policies on this. This is known as ‘découpage’ and further information on this will be available from each individual provider.

In order to get internet services connected to your property you will need to have proof of ID and proof of address, usually one of your utility bills or a copy of your tenancy agreement will be sufficient here. If you want internet services from a company that is already providing you with telephone or other services then you will not normally need to provide this type of documentation. A deposit may also be payable by new customers and there may be installation fees which are applicable.

If your area is not able to get the ADSL Broadband service you can opt for a satellite broadband internet or 3G system. Alternatively you can choose to use a dial-up system but these are losing popularity due to the very slow speeds. If you opt for the ISDN service from France Telecom – known as ‘Numéris’ this can improve the speed of a dial-up system. Using a dial-up system in France can prove to be expensive due to the costs of local calls, which are more expensive than in the US or the UK.

There are plans in place to improve the quality of internet access to those who are living in rural areas. At the end of 2010 the Ka-Sat satellite was launched and is due to come into operation in May 2011. This is a satellite dedicated solely to internet, which will give users faster internet speed. This satellite internet service will be offered by a number of companies including SHD, Alsatis and Axione. Those who are not able to receive broadband services at the moment will be given priority for the new service. Further investments in cable and fibre optic internet services are also planned.

Broadband companies in France include Alice, which was formerly known as Tiscali and offering telephone and TV services via the internet. Darty is an electronics retailer and customers can purchase a ‘dartybox’ that gives them internet, telephone and TV packages which are linked to the Completel network. Neuf Telecom is an independent service and in some areas offers a fibre optic connection for high speeds. Neuf offers a no contract service.

Paying a bill for internet services is relatively easy. If your internet is part of a package then you should receive one bill for your telephone, internet and television services. Bills can be paid by direct debit, online or by cash or cheque. Most bills can be paid over the counter at the post office or you can arrange a standing order directly to the provider’s bank account.

For those who do not have internet services at home or who want to access internet when they are out and about, there is internet access available at some of the larger libraries and in the growing number of internet cafes. These are mainly available in the larger towns.

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