Internet in France

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In metropolitan France, intense competition between Internet service providers has led to the introduction of moderately-priced high speed ADSL up to 28 Mbit/s (ATM), VDSL2 up to 100 Mbit/s, and FTTX up to 1 Gbit/s for €29,90 per month. They often include other services such as unlimited free VoIP telephone communications to land lines, and digital television. Dial-up internet access is considered outdated.

For many years now, quotas have been seen as outdated and consequently, all the broadband internet offers in France are now unmetered.


On 3 December 2008, France had 16.3 million broadband connections, of which 94% are ADSL subscribers.[1] This makes France the second largest ADSL market in Europe. At the end of 2005, 30% of those DSL lines were unbundled, and 37% of those unbundled lines were totally unbundled without any direct invoicing of the historical operator and a greater progression rate than partial unbundling.[2] At the end of September 2005, more than 95% of the population can have a DSL connection, albeit some of them only 512/128.

ADSL market[edit]

  • Orange (formerly France Télécom, which acquired Wanadoo) is the leader with half of the market with 41.7% (June 2012), helped by the reputation and availability of physical shops of the incumbent operator to overcome slightly higher prices because of its obligation of using fixed prices.
  • Free and Alice (subsidiary of Iliad) with 23.01% of the market (French Wikipedia page)
  • SFR with 22.95% of the market (end of 2007). This company has acquired Neuf Cegetel and Tele2 (Neuf Cegetel (Louis Dreyfus Group) has previously merged his ADSL activities with Cegetel (Vivendi Universal), Club Internet (ex-Deutsche Telekom) and AOL).
  • Bouygues Telecom with 5.77%. (French Wikipedia page)
  • Other operators (DartyBox, NordNet, OVH, Prixtel, Budget Telecom, Coriolis Télécom, Virgin Mobile, Numericable, Vivéole, FDN, Nerim, Magic OnLine…) with 6,57 %.

The Orange competitors begin to gain more subscribers, which means that Orange had a subscription decline.

ADSL offers[edit]

The market is oriented towards stopping the price war, and offering more services at a price around €30, slightly more for the incumbent operator:

  • maximum throughput permitted by the line, either 8 Mbit/s (maximum of ADSL), 24 Mbit/s (maximum of ADSL2+) or 28 Mbit/s (Broadcom non-standard ADSL2+ deployed on Free network) depending on the line length and type of DSLAM
  • unlimited telephony to land lines in Europe, North America (even mobile phones), China and India
  • television with the broadcasting of the young terrestrial digital TV and paid satellite TV.

Those triple play offers were initiated by Free with the Freebox modem, and are expanding to all major players, driving the French market.[3]

As the market matures, it is beginning to open to smaller "boutique" broadband suppliers that specialize in meeting the needs of specific market segments. For example, Teleconnect France[4] has introduced an AngloPack ADSL/VOIP service for the 250,000 English-speaking ex-pats residing in France, featuring 20 MB/s connection speeds; free calls to the UK, USA and other anglophone countries; provision of a local UK number permitting a user's family and friends to call the user's VOIP line in France at the cost of a local call; and full customer service in English. Teleconnect is the only broadband service provider in France with an English help desk.

First prices between €15 and €20 per month remain for a small usage with limited throughput around one megabit per second (but often ADSL2 max in unbundled zones). Those prices can also be attained with complete unbundling, saving the monthly €15 for the POTS subscription while retaining the triple play services. Those offers of naked DSL are also available in non-unbundled areas, and can lead to the economy of the traditional telephone subscription.[5][6]

ADSL technology[edit]

After selling the first ADSL2+ offers in Europe, providing a speed of 18 Mbit/s down and 1 Mbit/s up in 2004, French operators continue to offer new services, driven by the competition. It is possible to use videotelephony, video on demand, Reach Extended ADSL for 8 km lines soon. Experiments aren't any more the Iliad/Free trademark: they recently demonstrated an aggregated 174 Mbit/s link,[7] while Telecom Italia innovates on the service with a free hotline and Orange is pushing VDSL.

In December 2005, Free enabled a TV multicasting service on the customer's local network, an open solution based on RTSP.[8] This completes the media center capability of the freebox, also using the VideoLAN project.[9] They launched on April 2006 a new Freebox divided in two devices with DVB-T and HDTV capabilities and a Mimo WiFi network.[10]

Quadruple play, triple play with mobile communications, is available: Neuf Cegetel is selling for €200 and €1 with a plan Twin,[11] a GSM/WiFi hybrid telephone after the experimental beautifulphone, by the means of a QTek 8300 and Wanadoo sells Unik, a Motorola, Nokia or Samsung handset for €100.[12] Free develops a wifi mesh network of HD freeboxes to be used to provide mobile telephony and compete with traditional cellular operators.

Other Technologies[edit]

France has recently become a hub of innovative technological applications, such as with Sigfox's IoT machine-to-machine network coverage of up to 80% of the hexagon.[13] Bosch, and other companies such as Ericsson and Cisco Systems have created similar connective applications, with Bosch having sold over 50 thousand networked heating systems in the country as of 2015. Sigfox and French companies, SYSMECA and Airbus, are partnering to embark on the “MUSTANG Project”, a drive to offer both earth- and satellite-based IoT communication worldwide. They are partly publically funded, with the French Future Investments Programme, through the Agence Nationale de la Recherche.[14][15][16]

Anti-piracy law[edit]

In May 2009, a bill was approved by the French National Assembly to prevent internet piracy. After being caught at downloading illegal files three times, a user's connection might be suspended.[17][18]


  1. ^ "3ème trimestre 2008 - Résultats provisoires". L'Observatoire de l’Internet haut débit (in French). Arcep. 2008-12-08. 
  2. ^ "Le tableau de bord du 30 juin 2006". Observatoire dégroupage et bitstream (in French). ARCEP. 2006-08-30. 
  3. ^ Andy Reinhardt (2005-12-05). "The Telecom Exploits Of Iliad". European business. BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  4. ^ Teleconnect France
  5. ^ "Telephone line rental is now included in the Freebox subscription in non-unbundled areas" (PDF) (Press release). iliad. 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2006-08-23. 
  6. ^ "the end of traditional telephone subscriptions in France" (Press release). Neuf Cegetel. 2006-08-17. Retrieved 2006-08-23. 
  7. ^ "Free est parvenu à délivrer grâce aux technologies DSL un débit maximum de 174 Mbit/s en réception et 18 Mbit/s en émission" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2005-11-25. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  8. ^ "Freebox TV is now multi-device enabled!" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  9. ^ "Freebox subscribers now have their own home media center" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2005-06-22. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  10. ^ "New HD Freebox Released" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  11. ^ "Neuf Cegetel, leading the way in fixed/mobile convergence, is launching TWIN, the first GSM/WiFi hybrid telephone on the consumer market" (Press release). Neuf Cegetel. 2006-05-30. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  12. ^ "France Telecom Launches the New Orange: a Single Brand for Internet, TV and Mobile, a Leading Brand In Opening Up Digital Services" (Press release). France Telecom. 2006-05-31. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  13. ^ Boogar, Liam. "Sigfox's IoT Network already covers 80% of France". RudeBaguette. RudeBaguette. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Bridges, Trista. "[Interview] Guy Maugis, President of Bosch France “In the connectivity business, there is a new ’3S’: sensors, software, and services”". RudeBaguette. RudeBaguette. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  15. ^ Lawson, Stephen. "IoT network will look to the skies for better coverage". PCWorld. PCWorld. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Angel, Marina. "Airbus embarque Sigfox et Sysmeca dans son projet Mustang". L'usine Digitale. L'usine Digitale. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Pfanner, Eric (2009-05-13). "France Approves Crackdown on Internet Piracy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  18. ^ "French net piracy bill signed off". BBC News. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2010-05-05.