Phone lines and broadband in France

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With a huge range of choices available for buyers in France looking to install communication services, Bob Elliott guides you through the various options

How times have changed in one generation! Many people can remember the advent of package holidays and the difference it made. A growing desire to make a new life abroad followed, with France being one of the most popular destinations for buying a holiday home.

Alongside this has been the more recent revolution in communications. The practice of letter writing and the long delays before receipt in a foreign country have been replaced by emails, and the novelty and cost of placing an international call has been replaced by an array of instant communications.

At no time is maintaining good contact more important than when making that move to France, but how do you make the best decisions on what services to buy when there are so many options?

Mobiles and computers all have different requirements, as do permanent and holiday homes that may need connections or services which can be suspended.

Poles apart...

If there is a line to the property that has been in use within the last two years it can be reconnected for just €55, otherwise it will cost €135 if there is a nearby pole. If no pole is close enough, you should expect to be quoted €500 per pole to get the service. Many in this situation also find that no broadband is available (or just a very slow one) so they investigate a combined satellite telephone and broadband service.

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There is a money-saving option that puts all your calls over the broadband service called ‘total dégroupage’ that saves you paying the line rental charge. However, you do need a minimum of 2Mbps broadband speed for it to work reliably. Avoid any miss-selling by making your own speed test using this link: www.degrouptest.com.

Help arranging the line installation is offered by expat companies, who also offer low-cost pay-as-you-go packages.

Second homes...

If your use is likely to be low you may want to use your iPad or laptop with a dongle and suitable package from your UK provider. Do remember that if you are going to live in a very rural area mobile coverage may be poor, ruling out this option.

If you can prove that your permanent home is elsewhere, you are eligible for line rental that can be suspended when you are away, with the associated savings. This is known as ‘ligne résidence secondaire’ and is only available through Orange. You will have to pay €4.69 each time you suspend the line but reactivation is free.

Orange is also the only company offering a broadband service that can be suspended but it is restricted to a maximum of 8Mbps, depending on the speed available on the line. This will cost €21 per month but suspension and reactivation is free.

Expat specialists offer a service that makes it much cheaper for friends and family to call you by ‘translating’ your telephone number to a low-cost UK number. The service is free, there are no contracts to sign and it does not affect your French number.

You also have the option of paying your invoices from a UK bank account.

Bob Elliott is commercial director at UKtelecom Ltd

Tel: 01483 477100

www.uktelecom.net