Bob Elliott reveals how to get the fastest possible broadband speed – even in the depths of rural France
Q I am looking for a property in the French countryside. How can I make sure I still get good enough broadband?
A There have been big changes in internet access for properties a long way from their local telephone exchange. As of November 15, 2018, households can no longer order a new analogue line and must opt for an alternative such as SFR’s 4G service that uses the mobile network. If there is no mobile network, you may have to use a satellite service. Head to www.zdnet.fr to check broadband speed in your chosen area; or visit www.quechoisir.org/carte-interactivereseau-mobile-n21247 to check mobile signal strength.
A working broadband service on the telephone line at the property can be taken over, but this service for existing customers will end in 2023. By that time, upgrades may enable you to use the VOIP broadband, otherwise a 4G or similar service should be used.
Q Even though I have reasonable broadband speed, it does slow down from time to time. I would like to use the new fibre broadband service, but how can I find out if it is available where I live?
A Fibre is generally only available in urban areas due to the cost. It is hugely popular thanks to the many other services that become available with it. You can have your television service delivered through it, along with pay-per-view premium events (usually sports), video on demand and the French Netflix catalogue of films and TV series.
This is because telecom companies are moving towards being full entertainment providers in the same way as Virgin and Sky in the UK. The fibre network is managed by both Orange and SFR, unlike the standard telephone line network which is managed by Orange exclusively. Other companies, such as ourselves, can reach agreements with them to provide access for their customers.
Q The property I am planning to buy has broadband. But as I intend to use it as a holiday home, I want to be able to suspend the service when I am away. Is this possible?
A Until May 2018, Orange had a great offer for all owners of holiday properties that allowed them to suspend their line rental and broadband when they were away. This is no longer the case and customers on such plans had to move to other services that do not require long-term contracts. Such short-term services are offered by SOSH Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free.
However, they charge connection and suspension fees, and each time you decide to restart the service you will be given a new telephone number. Also, should you choose to keep the service running for longer than a year, costs will rise dramatically.
UKTelecom offers a similar service to all its customers, not just holiday homeowners. It allows you to suspend the broadband service for up to four months a year, with a maximum saving of nearly €130.
Q I know my broadband speed will inevitably be slower than I am used to once I move to France, but is there anything I can do to get the most out of it?
A Place your modem as high as possible. Avoid placing it in the kitchen, near a TV or mirror, and use your wi-fi security code. If necessary, change your modem’s wi-fi channel with the help of your telecom company.
Bob Elliott is the Commercial Director at UKTelecom. He’s an expert in telephone networks and broadband and knows how to get the best from any service.
Tel: France (free): 0805 631632 – UK: +44 (0) 1483 477100