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Laura K. Lawless


Internet en France

By March 12, 2010

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Sur la demande d'un abonné, je vais parler aujourd'hui du service Internet en France, qui est, à mon avis, l'une des choses avec le meilleur rapport qualité-prix dans ce pays. Il y a plusieurs fournisseurs d'accès haut débit / ADSL qui offrent tous plus ou moins le même forfait (mot du jour) : Internet illimité, télévision et téléphone (avec appels gratuits vers les fixes dans des douzaines de pays) à environ 30 euros par mois.

Ces options sont disponibles seulement pour les abonnés situés dans les zones dégroupées, c'est-à-dire dans lesquelles les lignes téléphoniques n'appartiennent plus uniquement à France Télécom (l'opérateur historique du pays), mais sont accessibles aux opérateurs alternatifs. Pour autant que je sache, la plupart des lignes sont dégroupées, mais il y a des milliers de clients potentiels dans les zones non dégroupées qui ne peuvent pas profiter d'une de ces offres de box* - ils ont le choix entre Internet bas débit ou Internet haut débit par satellite, qui doit être beaucoup plus cher.

Mon expérience personnelle : Pour commencer, j'ai acheté une Dartybox, qui contenait, à cette époque, le modem du service Neuf Cégétel. Bien que j'habite dans une zone dégroupée, le modem ne s'est jamais connecté et après plus d'une semaine, Neuf m'a dit que l'ADSL n'était pas disponible sur ma ligne (en dépit du fait qu'ils m'avaient assurée au début que tout allait marcher). Et puis, avant de pouvoir rendre la Dartybox, j'ai dû appeler un numéro payant pour demander une autorisation. Une semaine, quatre appels et 12 euros plus tard, je ne l'avais toujours pas, et j'ai fini par vendre le modem à perte sur un site de petites annonces. (Encore pire - Neuf fait actuellement partie du réseau SFR, et j'ai des amis abonnés à ce service qui l'ont perdu pendant deux mois. Bref, je ne recommanderais aucune entreprise affiliée à Neuf.)

À la place, je me suis abonnée au service de Freebox, et en moins de trois jours, j'étais connectée à un service ADSL presque parfait. Le taux de transmission est de 100 mbps (megabits par seconde), et depuis 2 ans, je n'ai pas eu plus de 4 ou 5 périodes de panne de quelques heures, et une qui a duré un jour.

*Pour presque tous les services de haut débit en France, le modem s'appelle une « box », et ce mot s'utilise aussi comme une sorte de raccourci pour parler du service haut débit en général :

Alicebox - Bbox - Dartybox - Freebox - Livebox - Neufbox

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English translation Please scroll down for the side-by-side translation.

Internet in France

Per a subscriber's request, today I'm going to talk about internet service in France, which is, in my opinion, one of the best values in this country. There are several high-speed / DSL ISPs which all offer more or less the same deal: unlimited internet, TV, and telephone (with free calls to fixed phones in dozens of countries) for about 30 euros (approx. $40-45) per month.

These options are only available to subscribers in "unbundled" zones; that is, those in which the phone lines are no longer exclusively owned by France Télécom (the first telephone operator of the country), but are available to alternative operators. As far as I know, the majority of lines are unbundled, but there are thousands of potential customers in non-unbundled zones who can't take advantage of one of these box* offers - they have a choice between dial-up internet and satellite high-speed internet, which must be a lot more expensive.

My experience: To start, I bought a Dartybox, which contained, at the time, the Neuf/Cégétel modem. Even though I live in an unbundled zone, the modem never connected, and after more than a week, Neuf told me that DSL wasn't available on my line (despite having assured me in the beginning that everything was going to work). And then, before I could return the Dartybox, I had to call a toll number to ask for permission. One week, four calls, and 12 euros later, I still didn't have it, and I ended up selling the modem at a loss on a classified-ad site. (Even worse - Neuf is now part of the SFR network, and I have friends subscribed to this service who lost it for 2 months. In short, I would never recommend any business affiliated with Neuf.)

Instead, I subscribed to the Freebox service, and within three days I was connected to an almost flawless DSL service. The transfer rate is 100 Mbps (megabits per second), and in two years, it has gone down only 4 or 5 times for a few hours, and once for a day.

*For nearly all high-speed internet services in France, the modem is called a "box," and this word is also used as a kind of shortcut for talking about high-speed service in general.

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Side-by-side translation

Internet en France

Sur la demande d'un abonné, je vais parler aujourd'hui du service Internet en France, qui est, à mon avis, l'une des choses avec le meilleur rapport qualité-prix dans ce pays. Il y a plusieurs fournisseurs d'accès haut débit / ADSL qui offrent tous plus ou moins le même forfait (mot du jour) : Internet illimité, télévision et téléphone (avec appels gratuits vers les fixes dans des douzaines de pays) à environ 30 euros par mois.

Ces options sont disponibles seulement pour les abonnés situés dans les zones dégroupées, c'est-à-dire dans lesquelles les lignes téléphoniques n'appartiennent plus uniquement à France Télécom (l'opérateur historique du pays), mais sont accessibles aux opérateurs alternatifs. Pour autant que je sache, la plupart des lignes sont dégroupées, mais il y a des milliers de clients potentiels dans les zones non dégroupées qui ne peuvent pas profiter d'une de ces offres de box* - ils ont le choix entre Internet bas débit ou Internet haut débit par satellite, qui doit être beaucoup plus cher.

Mon expérience personnelle : Pour commencer, j'ai acheté une Dartybox, qui contenait, à cette époque, le modem du service Neuf Cégétel. Bien que j'habite dans une zone dégroupée, le modem ne s'est jamais connecté et après plus d'une semaine, Neuf m'a dit que l'ADSL n'était pas disponible sur ma ligne (en dépit du fait qu'ils m'avaient assurée au début que tout allait marcher). Et puis, avant de pouvoir rendre la Dartybox, j'ai dû appeler un numéro payant pour demander une autorisation. Une semaine, quatre appels et 12 euros plus tard, je ne l'avais toujours pas, et j'ai fini par vendre le modem à perte sur un site de petites annonces. (Encore pire - Neuf fait actuellement partie du réseau SFR, et j'ai des amis abonnés à ce service qui l'ont perdu pendant deux mois. Bref, je ne recommanderais aucune entreprise affiliée à Neuf.)

À la place, je me suis abonnée au service de Freebox, et en moins de trois jours, j'étais connectée à un service ADSL presque parfait. Le taux de transmission est de 100 mbps (megabits par seconde), et depuis 2 ans, je n'ai pas eu plus de 4 ou 5 périodes de panne de quelques heures, et une qui a duré un jour.

*Pour presque tous les services de haut débit en France, le modem s'appelle une « box », et ce mot s'utilise aussi comme une sorte de raccourci pour parler du service haut débit en général :

Alicebox - Bbox - Dartybox - Freebox - Livebox - Neufbox

Internet in France

Per a subscriber's request, today I'm going to talk about internet service in France, which is, in my opinion, one of the best values in this country. There are several high-speed / DSL ISPs which all offer more or less the same deal: unlimited internet, TV, and telephone (with free calls to fixed phones in dozens of countries) for about 30 euros (approx. $40-45) per month.

These options are only available to subscribers in "unbundled" zones; that is, those in which the phone lines are no longer exclusively owned by France Télécom (the first telephone operator of the country), but are available to alternative operators. As far as I know, the majority of lines are unbundled, but there are thousands of potential customers in non-unbundled zones who can't take advantage of one of these box* offers - they have a choice between dial-up internet and satellite high-speed internet, which must be a lot more expensive.

My experience: To start, I bought a Dartybox, which contained, at the time, the Neuf/Cégétel modem. Even though I live in an unbundled zone, the modem never connected, and after more than a week, Neuf told me that DSL wasn't available on my line (despite having assured me in the beginning that everything was going to work). And then, before I could return the Dartybox, I had to call a toll number to ask for permission. One week, four calls, and 12 euros later, I still didn't have it, and I ended up selling the modem at a loss on a classified-ad site. (Even worse - Neuf is now part of the SFR network, and I have friends subscribed to this service who lost it for 2 months. In short, I would never recommend any business affiliated with Neuf.)

Instead, I subscribed to the Freebox service, and within three days I was connected to an almost flawless DSL service. The transfer rate is 100 Mbps (megabits per second), and in two years, it has gone down only 4 or 5 times for a few hours, and once for a day.

*For nearly all high-speed internet services in France, the modem is called a "box," and this word is also used as a kind of shortcut for talking about high-speed service in general.

I invite you to post comments related to this article below, but please post unrelated comments in the forum.

Comments

March 12, 2010 at 4:30 am
(1) Aslihan says:

I have been living in Strasbourg for 2 years and using neuf box, I had the same problems aussi, I never recommed neuf box either:))
I am following your site for approxiamately three months, this site brought me considerable progress with my French thank you:))

March 12, 2010 at 7:08 am
(2) James Kearney says:

Laura, first I have to say I enjoy and learn from your weekly articles so thank you for your work. Second, as you can see from my email address, I also have a Freebox but my vitesse de ligne is only about 6 mb although the service is suppose to be much higher. They tell me that it depends on the distance your house is from the France Telecom central office. If I were you, I would go to your Free account, go to the Internet Service section where they have a line where you can test the speed you are getting for upload and download. I bet it’s a lot less than the 100 mb they advertised and promised. I’d love to know what you find. Thanks, James Kearney

March 12, 2010 at 7:38 am
(3) Laura K Lawless says:

Aslihan – I’m sorry you’re stuck with Neuf. :-( I’m relieved, after the fact, that it didn’t work in the beginning, because of the ordeal my friends went through.

James – interesting. My modem says 100 (which is where I got that info, not from the Freebox site), and the speed test says 12.91. I’d never given it any thought because my connection is plenty fast – I can download an mp3 file in a few seconds, for example, so I have no complaints.

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

March 12, 2010 at 9:53 am
(4) Leslie says:

Très intéréssant, comme d’habitude! Merci. J’adore apprendre ce genre de chose au sujet de la vie en France, les choses de tous les jours.

March 12, 2010 at 10:36 am
(5) Mudra Gomkale says:

I have been a french student in my secondary school in India. Your nouveau messages help me to be in touch with French.Also ienjoy reading & appriciating them.Thanks a lot Laura you r doing a remarkable job.You help me to enhance my knowledge of the languaage further.

March 12, 2010 at 11:18 am
(6) herman says:

March 12th . The Netherlands. Bonjour Laura. I have the impression that we here in The Netherlands are ‘au bout du monde’! I mean 100mb ps is enormous. Best and most expansive provider here, delivers 60mbps via cable and costs around 60euro’s a month ,effectively one gets around 40mbps by that contract. Personally I have internet+telephone costs 30€ a month for the adsl 20mbps system . I receive between 14 mbps most of the time it various by the time of the day. Sure I agree its not to bad. They say the fastest system is in Sweden , may be a Swedisch learner could give us some info about it. Yes Laura, but what about the USA I wonder how it functions there? I mean its such a fast country, may be you can inform us in French about it. Thank you very very much for your fine French educational weekly deliveries. I hope you can continue. Avec meilleurs salutations. Herman Roeffen

March 12, 2010 at 11:38 am
(7) Johnboy4 says:

Bonjour Laura,
Quelques precisions! D’abord j’habite dans une zone non-degroupée et nous benefiçons d’une ligne ADSL comme les zones degroupee. Je possede un Livebox, mais on a le choix de toutes les autres fournisseurs.
J’ai un ami qui habite dans une zone sans ADSL et il est servi par satellite (Nordsat). Le département a payé le cout de la parabole et modem et il faut que mon ami paye 35€ chaque mois pour le service – pas trop mal!

March 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm
(8) candide says:

Wow now I am really confused. I have a Darty Box that works really well. It has nothing to do with the Neuf Boxes which I thought were from a completely separate company. When I read the list of wi-fi routers on my MAC Airport list, in my neighborhood here in Dijon, I see Darty Boxes and Neuf Boxes and Free boxes and they are not from the same company as far as I know. I get my Darty Box from the Darty Store. Neuf is from Neuf……hmmmm. They even have separate websites which you’ve posted. How could you possibly get a Darty Box from Neuf? Anyway the cool thing is the ‘world’ calling which includes cell phones. Just not Thailand…..

March 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm
(9) John says:

My wife and I stayed at a B&B in rural Provance two years ago and they offered high speed Internet. The Innkeeper told me it was the national policy of France that everyone should have high speed Internet. I wish the US would be so forward looking.
This year, we are renting apartments in Bretagne and on the Cote d’Azur, both of which offer high speed Internet. This is useful to me as I post photos weekly as I travel.
Merci pour votre site Web.
John from San Diego

March 13, 2010 at 7:08 am
(10) Charlotte says:

Laura, it’s great you did a post on this. when I got to France, I got Orange (France Telecom) as my provider. IT TOOK ME 2 MONTHS TO HAVE INTERNET. Now that I’m with them everything works okay, but it was 2 months of frustration and I had 3 people coming to my house to fix it. Seriously dissappointing. next time, I’ll definitely try and avoid Orange and I’d recommend people to do the same. 1 month after the ordeal, I wanted to get Darty upon recommendations. I’m surprised you had issues with Darty, I heard lots of great reviews on how quick they install everything and how they come to yours to install the system in no time without charge. Unfortunately I couldn’t and had to stick to Orange…

But Internet is definitely one of the things which take forever in so many places, so i guess it’s normal. However, 2 months is definitely quite a long time! I wouldn’t judge my monthly fee at Orange (40 euros for TV, calls in france’s landlines and internet) very good quality-price value either…

March 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm
(11) gail bingenheimer says:

I recently moved back to the United States and have AT&T has my internet provider. When I lived in the south of France during the summers of 2003 & 2004 I always went to school or the library and used the services for free. Recently I moved back from South Korea where the internet plus cable was about $30/month. However, I was given no choice and there is so much spam I was told that alot of in going messages and out going messages are blocked. gail

March 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm
(12) elaine says:

I’ve had the same question/experience as candide. We’ve had our DartyBox (not NeufBox) from Darty for three years, and although there have been problems with download speed, Darty have been very responsive (although they had to admit in the end they couldn’t do anything!).

Et merçi, Johnboy4, c’est une info très intéressante.

March 15, 2010 at 6:10 am
(13) Mehmet Ali says:

100 Mbps unlimited internet is just a good dream here in Turkey! ADSL is can reach up to 8mbps . With that speed, there are two options: 15GB monthly limited for 49 TL (23 Euros) (which is not enough for me) and unlimited for 99 TL (47 Euros) and if you want higher speed, you can connect with VDSL2 with which you can reach 32 Mbps speed unlimitedly at the cost of 138 TL (66 Euros). None of these prices are included anything else like telephone or TV! This way or that way, I can reach internet without any problem, but maybe a bit expensively!

Laura, your blog makes it easier for me to learn french faster, merci beaucoup!

March 15, 2010 at 11:04 am
(14) Sandra says:

I am a proprietaire in Paris, and have great need of the internet during my visits which are usually each short (under one week). The catch with all the internet providers, is that the equipment is mailed to your service address, and if you are not a constant resident, or have a neighbor to receive a package, you have great difficulties in timing to get the equipment. I got Alicebox over 2 years ago, but as the equipment aged, it was no longer picking up any internet signal. Thus began my saga of tech service with Alice, whose inquiry calls, although free, are a nightmare. The modem was unquestionably not functioning, but each time I finally got through to someone whose tests and reasoning arrived at that same conclusion and a solution was imminent , I was suddenly left with a dead line. This was not just one or 2 times. It was 8 or 9, and also happened to a friend who did some calling for me. Being left with the new problem of obtaining a modem with the mailing issues, I went with Darty which is the only provider who actually stocks the equipment. Although there are sporadic cuts in the signal (which I believe have to do with the telephone lines in the building), it appears to be working at most times, and I can actually deal with a real person and real store hours to discuss the problems face to face. After the service provider change I received numerable offers from Alice to re-install my service, and then the demand to return all of the equipment to their CEDEX address, which I did “recommendé” so that I would be finished with them forever! Bon débarras!

June 17, 2010 at 6:02 am
(15) Zia says:

I just stumbled onto this article while trying to find information about how the French telecom system works (or, doesn’t work, I should say). As an ex-pat, maybe I have been spoiled by “actual” customer service and efficient technicians that use their brains and not an automated question/answer software program. I have been without telephone service for the last 2 weeks (no TV or internet either, and I am currently (thankfully, at least) on a local public WiFi signal. The problem started when SFR service in the entire neighborhood went out…on a Saturday. Meaning that no one would even begin to look at the problem until Monday. My partner is a nurse and needs the internet for uploading secure information to the “SECU”. Without it, no paycheck. One week later, still no service, and yes, many expense phone calls to customer service. We were finally offered a loaner 3G card, that worked for about 3 days and stopped for some unknown reason. By then, we decided to switch to Freebox (since we have heard many good things about their service). A few day later, and 2 hours after SFR had finally repaired the lines (which took about 10 days), Free had all of our lines cut off. When we called them to find out why, they explained that this was “normal” procedure and that our new equipment would arrive in about 10 days. We also had to send a hand-written letter to SFR asking to end the service, which takes place 10 business days after receiving the letter. (Not sure what the obsession over 10 days is all about here) After much searching, I still fail to understand why we must continue to pay for service that we cannot use for several weeks or even have to pay both service providers (SFR and Free) for the days that overlap. And also, why is it accepted to be completely without service for weeks (and for some unfortunate souls, months) at a time? I think the last time I changed service in the U.S., it took about 2 days to complete the entire process, I received my equipment overnight, and everything worked immediately. It has been 9 days since Free told us the box had shipped…are they sending it by donkey?
I prefer to approach these things with “things are different here for a reason”, but really I fail to understand why.
I read a post from 2007 (things have apparently not changed at all since then) that hinted at France Telecom essentially holding lines hostage simply because they can.
If anyone can bring some logic to this way of doing business, it would be most appreciated! Also, does anything exist in France that is similar to the FCC ?
Thanks!

August 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm
(16) alex says:

just pour information chez free le service clients pas attentifs à la demande surtout lorsqu il y un soucis avec la ligne. pas réactif du tout. lamentable

August 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm
(17) Jonathon says:

J’ai rendu compte, Laura, dans votre réponse à James, que la vitesse de votre modem est environ 8 fois moins que ce qu’on lit sur la facture. Il me faut mentionner que “KBps” n’est pas la même chose que “Kbps”; 1 KBps = 8 Kbps. D’habitude on voit les publicités disant “100Kbps” parce que ça semble plus impressionant que “12KBps”.

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