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Satellite Broadband and TV in France | Everything you need to know

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We take a look at satellite broadband in France – if you want to know what satellite broadband in France is all about, this is the definitive guide that answers all your questions…

Around 18,000 homes in France choose satellite broadband over traditional telephone line based services, a remarkably low amount. In the UK and Ireland, where there is far better access to a speedy service of traditional broadband, there are more than 20,000 subscribers to satellite broadband. Given the comparatively poor access to fast broadband in France it is perhaps surprising that there are not more satellite subscribers, but many people are confused about how to install this service and what it really means.

Satellite Broadband in France

Often satellite broadband is the only reliable and fast service available in rural areas. Whilst it is generally more expensive to install it could actually be much cheaper if there are no nearby line services, but the deciding factor that is causing many people to turn to this channel for internet services is speed and reliability.

During winter months there will often be a number of telephone lines damaged by storms, and whenever this is the case the phone line repair teams are over-stretched and it is common for the service to take 10 or more days to restore. It makes no difference which provider you use, Orange, SFR or anybody else; the independent sub-contract engineers have to give equal priority to all faults.  Unless you have paid for an enhanced repair service you are in a queue and have to wait for them to get round to you.

Compare this to a satellite service. There are no lines to be damaged by the storms or corrosion of joints in lines at the top of poles, and the speed of the service is just as fast no matter where you live. Your service is delivered between your dish and the satellite and the only occasional problem can be a temporary loss of quality if there is a very heavy storm or snow. However as soon as the storm passes the service returns to normal. Most problems with satellite broadband incidentally, are usually associated with the modems.

Satellite Television in France

The satellites which are used to transmit TV programmes were altered which resulted in widespread loss of access to Sky TV services.  The satellites now in use have a tight beam, meaning that the further south of the Channel you are the more likely you are to lose access to UK TV.

Simply using a larger dish is no guarantee that you will get access to overseas services , but there are alternatives. You can buy a ‘free to air’ set top box to get the free to air French services, TF1, France2, 3, 5 and M6. This will be compatible with a UK TV.  You can also subscribe to Canal Satellite, a service similar to Sky and get some UK TV channels.

If you have a standard broadband service with at least 2Mbps speed, or a satellite service, you can use this to access UK TV catch-up TV. These are services provided in the UK by the major broadcasters who repeat programmes previously aired via digital distribution, allowing access via broadband.  BBC’s iPlayer, ITV Player and Channel4OD (On Demand) are popular examples. These programmes are usually available for 30 days, so it is a convenient way of seeing many popular soaps etc.

Getting the service outside of the UK will require special arrangements. If you have the technical knowledge you can set up a ‘sling box’ to establish your own Virtual Private Network. However most people choose specialist providers. If you subscribe to a satellite broadband service, remember that streaming TV programmes and films uses a lot of data (which is not unlimited as is the case for line based services), so make sure your data allowance is sufficient for your needs.  (See “your satellite broadband questions answered“).

TV programmes via broadband can be shown on your TV if you use an appropriate cable.

You can use a HDMI cable to connect your PC to your TV to get the best sound and picture quality.  Older PCs and TVs may only support a VGA cable, and this will not carry sound.

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