Broadband and Mobile Phone Deals in France
Friday 04 November 2016
Most internet service providers in France offer broadband internet and mobile phone package deals, but in rural areas the choice is limited.There are currently four main internet service providers (ISPs) in France - Orange, Bouygues Telecoms, Free, and SFR.
Numericable is another ISP, but it offers optical fibre only internet services in urban areas of France. They have no mobile network of their own so their mobile offer is provided through the SFR phone network.
In 2014 SFR and Numericable merged their activities and their primary focus for services is now in the development of their optical fibre network.
Bouygues Telecoms no longer offer combined internet and mobile phone deals, although it is possible to take out separate contracts for internet and mobile phone with the operator.
Accordingly, those who live in rural France who seek an internet and mobile phone package deal would generally need to consider offers via either Orange, Free, or SFR.
Free have made huge inroads into the market in recent years, much of it due to the low prices they advertise, but there are many reports of poor reception or service breakdowns for users, particularly outside of the main urban areas. There also remain many areas where they have no mobile phone coverage.
Although the SFR network is stronger, the company gets more customer complaints than any other operator, with a recent survey showing 38% of existing customers dissatisfied with the service they receive. The complaints concerned both their technical performance as well as problems around customer service.
Shaping many of these problems is the gradual phasing out of the traditional copper wired telephone system in France, with the announcement by Orange earlier this year that they will no longer be laying new copper cabling. From 2021 the existing network will be gradually phased out and replaced by other technologies, notably optical fibre.
As a result, maintenance of the existing land line system is becoming a lower priority for Orange, and that is having a knock-on effect on all operators using the network who are frequently second or third in the queue.
So at the end of the day a great many rural households are reliant on the offers from Orange, who have the most comprehensive internet and mobile network in France, and whose service, not surprisingly, is widely regarded to be more reliable.
Package deals that offer both internet at home and a mobile phone contract are frequently advertised as 'Mobile+Box' or 'Quadruple Play'. Most offer internet, television, telephone calls to mobiles and fixed numbers and a mobile phone contract.
In examining any package offer you need to give particular attention to your mobile phone needs as well as the quality of the internet connection in your home; many offers limit mobile phone calls to and from international destinations, and advertised broadband speeds may not be available at your property.
OrangeThe main telecoms provider inevitably has the widest choice in package deals.
All their package offers require a minimum 12-month contract, but that does at least give the security of a fixed price for the period of the contract.
Prices are from around €37 to €100 per month. There is also a commissioning charge of €50 and a termination charge of €50.
Their entry level package is Open Mini. It offers unlimited home based telephone calls to other fixed lines in France and more than 100 other countries, as well as to mobile phones in the USA and Canada, but very limited mobile phone internet and call capacity. Mobile calls and internet from Europe to France are not available.
Moving up the scale is their Open Zen, with unlimited mobile calls to fixed and mobile lines in France and 2Go of mobile internet. Calls and internet from Europe to France are not available.
Those seeking international coverage in their mobile package would need to take out an Open Play contract. The offer provides for unlimited mobile calls to fixed and mobile numbers in France and at least 4Go internet per month. With 'Play 30Go' there are unlimited calls to fixed lines from your mobile to around 100 international destinations, but only 3 hours mobile and internet from Europe to France. Unlimited home based calls to fixed and mobile numbers in France and to fixed lines in over 100 countries.
Finally, their Open Jet offer is for those who seek extensive mobile use on an international basis. Their Jet 40 package gives complete unlimited fixed and mobile calls to and from Europe.
SoshAs an alternative to taking out a package with Orange it is worth considering doing so via their low-cost subsidiary Sosh.
Sosh was launched in 2011 in reaction to the entry of Free into the market. Although aimed at a younger market, it is available and suitable for all ages.
One of the interesting aspects of their offer is that French television on your TV set is only available as an optional extra, and as this is a feature rarely sought by expatriates it makes their offer more competitive. (You can, in any event, simply use a television aerial).
The service runs on the same infrastructure as Orange, with the main differences being:
- The offer is only on-line, not via the High Street;
- No fixed telephone line, with all calls going through your router;
- The level of customer service is less comprehensive than the parent company;
- Television via the internet comes at an extra charge;
- The maximum amount of mobile internet is more limited;
- No charge for the rental of a router;
- There is no minimum fixed period contract;
- The prices are lower.
The packages offered by Sosh vary from €30 to €50.
For all packages, from your router at home you get unlimited calls to fixed and mobile numbers in France and to fixed numbers in around 100 other countries. You will also get WiFi internet at home, with no charge for the router.
From your mobile, the entry level package at €30 per month gets you 2 hours of calls to fixed and mobile numbers within France, but only 50Mo of mobile internet per month.
For €35 per month you have unlimited calls to fixed and mobile numbers in France from your mobile, with the same limited mobile internet access. You can get more internet by a higher monthly charge. International calls are via the VoIP application Libon, the terms of which depend on the package.
Mobile internet access in France ranges from 50Mo at the bottom end to 20Go for the most expensive package.
This article was featured in our Newsletter dated 04/11/2016