The traditional contact with home through letters and occasional long distance phone calls has long been replaced by a world of instant contact through the internet and very inexpensive calls to international destinations. We look at some great ways to save money when you set up phone and internet in France.
Save 50% on your new telephone line in France
There is a wide range of telephone and broadband providers you can approach to get connected. The French telephone network is owned by Orange and all alternative companies will use this network. Orange has an English speaking help line and there are several expat providers offering services to English speakers. Repairs to the network are carried out by separate sub-contractors who give all telecom companies equal priority for their customers. If your property has had an active telephone line within the last 2 years, setting up a new service will be 55€ if you can provide the name of the previous user or the telephone number. The service can be activated remotely which keeps the cost down. If not, an engineer will have to visit the property and the cost will more than double – 130€. If you are not fluent in French or would find it helpful for someone to manage installation of your new line some of the specialist multi-lingual telecoms companies providing services to expats will do this for you, making a small charge for the work involved.
There is a monthly line rental charge (see the Orange Website: www.orange.fr for details).
Telephone and Broadband for remote locations in France
If you live in a remote area and there has never been a line installed it may be necessary to have additional telephone poles erected. It typically costs around 500€ for each pole and you will have to have a trench dug from the boundary to your property for the line to be laid in which will incur additional costs.
As satellite broadband and good quality calls have come down in price, people in these situations often go for satellite provision, especially as line based broadband will be slow and possibly not even available. Another benefit to using satellite telecoms is being able to take your handset with you anywhere in the world , as long as you can access a suitable broadband modem, your phone will still make and receive calls as if you were at home. Users need never miss a call, can make ‘free’ calls within their call package no matter where they are and the answerphone even works!
Telephone and Broadband for second homes in France
You may have purchased a second home and if so, you might want to use telephone and broadband services only whilst you are there. Providing you can prove that your main residence is elsewhere, you can choose to subscribe to line rental and broadband services that can be suspended. The line rental is known as ‘ligne residence secondaire’ and the broadband speed will be restricted to 0.5Mbps – be aware, this is slow by ordinary standards.
Look behind the headline prices to get the best deal
If you are going to be resident in France then you will want to consider taking a call package as this may be more cost effective. The market is very competitive with headline costs all competing with one another. It is worth noting that your call pattern may be different to the typical French customer for whom the call packages sold by French companies are designed.
If you are likely to call UK non-geographic numbers such as those used by banks, insurance companies, some government departments and other service related businesses you are likely to pay high charges for using them via a French telecoms service. Expat specialists can provide very attractive rates to call these UK specific numbers and the savings could be significant depending on your use.
Take a look at the back of credit cards and other items from organisations you use as, in addition to their 0845, 0847 0870 type of numbers, they often have an international number, use that instead. It will of course work in the UK if you drop the international prefix, and this will save you money when back in the UK!
If you cannot find a normal number visit www.saynoto0870.com and search for it there.
Save money on friends and family calls in France
One other often overlooked saving offered by the expat specialists is that they can ‘translate’ your French number to a low cost 0844 UK number. It does not affect the way your French number works but if you give this number to friends and family they can make huge savings when calling you. Typically a call made on a domestic BT line in the daytime will be six times as expensive as using your 0844 number. The service is FREE and there is no contract to commit to.
When things go wrong with your phone in France
Be aware that you will probably get charged a premium rate for a call for support to your French supplier. Following many complaints the premium rate is not charged until your call is answered, however a technical problem with your broadband can typically take between 20 and 30 minutes to resolve (particularly if your technical French is not good) and therefore the call can be expensive. Many of the expat specialists offer a Freephone number for all calls made in France to their offices and the support will be in English.
It pays to spend time finding a supplier who can give good, honest advice and can provide a one bill solution that is designed to meet your needs.