Main Internet Providers
To get high-speed Internet access in France, like in anywhere in the world, you need a subscription with an Internet Service Provider/ISP (un fournisseur d’acces Internet/FAI). There are numerous ISPs in France with competitive rates. Normally fees per month range from 20-60 euros for high-speed DSL services that are also bundled with telephone (sometimes even including mobile phones) and television. Sign up is usually done online or over the phone, and if there has already been service at your apartment then the company does not need to send an installation technician and the connection will be established in a matter of days. If not, however, an appointment will be scheduled for a home installation by one of the company’s technicians. This process used to take several weeks, but with present-day competition, the wait has been seriously lessened and you shouldn’t have to wait for more than a week for service.
Check websites for rates, phone numbers and information on how to sign up for service. Choose carefully as it is not easy and can be very time-consuming to cancel a service, especially if the service is not working up to your expectations. Note that in many of the larger stores which deal with electronics – Darty (http://www.darty.fr) or FNAC (http://www.fnac.fr) for example – you may compare packages, and sign up for services, from the major providers.
- Free, http://www.free.fr
- Numericable, http://www.numericable.fr
- Virgin Mobile, http://www.virginmobile.fr
- Prixtel, http://www.prixtel.com
- SFR, http://www.sfr.fr
As with mobile phone providers, you can compare internet packages on line through the websites http://www.ariase.com/fr/comparatifs and http://www.edcom.fr.
While dial-up Internet connections are still available, they can be very expensive considering that you are double-charged, for the ISP per-minute fee and for the local calls charged by France Telecom.
The alternative to dial-up connection is either an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line), fiber-optic or a connection through your cable TV company (Numericable, Neuf, Alice). To use any of the ADSL subscriptions, you need a fixed phone line; with Numericable, however, you do not. The ADSL or cable modem connections provide an unlimited and full-time Internet connection while keeping your phone line open. Both options give you access to email and the Internet for a flat rate. Not all options are available in all areas. Check with Ariase as they have a simple “Test d’éligibilité adsl et fibre optique”. Make sure you ask about installation or hookup fees, purchase or rental costs and penalty charges for canceling before a specific date.
Many of the ADSL providers are now offering voice-over-Internet telephone service, with unlimited calls anywhere in France and vastly reduced rates – even free for Western Europen and North American land lines, in many cases – for international calls. This telephone service may be included in the monthly rate for your ADSL Internet service or may be offered as an additional monthly fee. Some providers allow you to cancel your France Telecom line service entirely and use the ADSL company for all your telephone services. Although this option will save you per month, you may want to maintain a fixed telephone line for emergencies. The quality of telephone connections over the Internet can sometimes be poor and in order for the telephone to work, the ADSL-modem, the electricity and the service from your ISP must be functioning properly.
Most of the ADSL companies also offer digital television with the Internet subscription. With some companies, like Free, the provided ADSL-modem is already equipped for this. The cost of the digital TV may be included in your monthly ADSL Internet subscription or may be an additional fee. In most cases, there is an additional fee to access certain premium channels, which vary from one provider to another.
Internet cafés are not as common in Paris as in other large cities, but may nonetheless be found in nearly all neighborhoods. They are rarely stand-alone internet cafés but rather a multi-service shop with telephone cabins, photocopier and fax services, etc. Rates are usually between 2-8 euros per hour. Far easier to find are WiFi hotspots; there are several free hotspots at cafés and restaurants throughout the city, including every one of the ubiquitous chain of Starbucks coffee shops. The city of Paris has also introduced free hotspots in the parks and gardens of Paris