There is nothing as consistent as change, and in the world of telecoms change is usually more frequent and by and large beneficial.
With well over half a million UK owners of holiday property in France and the need for broadband for both owners and holiday renters if they let their home higher than ever the decision of Orange, the national telecom carrier, to stop their popular service allowing line rental and broadband to be suspended when not needed has come as a major blow.
Originally created for the French domestic market, the ‘Ligne Residence Secondaire’ served the large number of nationals with a home in the town and a country retreat. All you had to do was prove that you had a main home elsewhere (even in the UK) and you could benefit from this popular cost saving arrangement. Apparently without notice the service was withdrawn in May, resulting in a lot of criticism both of the savings now being denied and the abruptness of the introduction of the change.
With line rental costing 17.96€/month and broadband at 37.99/month, a second home owner using their property for four months a year will see their costs rise from 275.70€/year to 551.40€/year. Unsurprisingly people are looking for alternatives.
Only UKTelecom offers a similar service originally driven by requests from customers with apartments in ski resorts. However there are several advantages to their offer. Firstly it is open to all its customers, not just second home owners, and secondly the suspension and reconnection is managed remotely and does not require the modem to be returned when the service is not being used. Emails are all that is needed to suspend and activate the service – so very simple to manage. The maximum period of suspension in any 12 month period is 4 months and there are some costs to keep the service live during its suspension. These depend on the type of broadband service supplied.
In addition to its free catch-up UKTV (viewed on PCs and via wifi, its popular premium UK catch-up TV service (viewed on TVs) can also be suspended when not needed as can any call packages subscribed to.
UKTelecom also provides a free support service to holiday home owners who rent their property. This is in the form of an information pack that is personalised for the customer and gives all the information to access the broadband service and a free technical support line should difficulties be experienced such as connecting devices to the wifi. This is very attractive to those who remain in the UK whilst visitors are holidaying at their property. Guests don’t have to worry about French technical language skills as help is in English or French if preferred.
But there are other options as well. The first would be to look at the short term contracts offered by other companies. These do not require the typical minimum contract of 12 months, but they do charge for activating and suspending the service. So, depending on your pattern of use this may provide bigger savings.
The following examples are for those with a fast enough broadband speed to use the VOIP service.
SFR will charge you 20€/month but also 49€ each time you suspend or reactivate your service.
Bouygues has a monthly charge of 12.99€ with 50€ to connect and 59€ to suspend.
Free asks 19.99€/month with 49€ for each suspension and reactivation of the service.
SOSH Orange bills 19.99€/month with 49€ for each suspension and reactivation of the service.
Each of these offers include a call package, some incorporating calls to mobiles
Will a ‘Hot Spot’ do?
The other option well worth investigating, particularly if you spend very few weeks at your second home, is to use UKTelecom’s mobile Hot Spot. Using the mobile network, the Hot Spot comes with a data credit and can connect via wifi to up to 9 devices at the same time. When the data credit needs topping up customers go to an English language web site and buy the amount of credit needed using any internationally recognised credit or debit card. Whilst this service is good for emails and web surfing it is expensive to use to download films etc.
Bob Elliott, Commercial Director
Tel: France (free): 0805 631632