How to Switch Mobile or Internet Providers in France

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telecom in france

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Feel like you're paying too much for your current internet plan? Running out of data every month and in need of a more generous allowance? Whatever the reason, if you feel it is time to change your phone or broadband provider, this article will show you how to do so.

Why change your mobile or phone provider?

The decision to changing phone or internet providers can have various causes. The main 3 reasons that motivate people in France are to pay less, because they are unsatisfied by their provider and its customer service, and because they are moving home.

Switching to a new mobile and broadband supplier to save money

Good news: France boasts some of the cheapest phone and internet plans in Europe. This can be explained by the arrival of Free Mobile on the market, which brought prices way down and forced its competitors to do the same. As a result, contract prices are getting more and more affordable, and consumers are all the more eager to find deals that'll be more budget-friendly.


Typically, a French consumer can own a deal including a phone subscription with unlimited calls / SMS and a generous data package with international allowance, all for €20 per month. Similarly, a triple play subscription (optical fibre internet + a fixed phone line + TV) for under €30 per month. And if a consumer is solely after a phone subscription, monthly prices can go down to €2 and even less!

With this in mind, you can better evaluate whether or not you are getting your money's worth. It is recommended to do the following when looking for a new plan, to avoid paying too much:

  • Pay close and regular attention to phone and internet deals in France in order to get the best deals currently on offer.
  • Opt for contract-free deals when possible. These will not only avoid you being tied down to a contract for 12 or 24 months (which can be constraining if you aren't planning to stay in France on the long term) but will also prevent you from paying very expensive fees in case you decide to cancel this plan early.
  • Evaluate how much data you need in France - you might end up consuming less than what you thought. As a result, opting for all-you-can-eat data or a 150 GB monthly allowance may be a waste of money, and settling for a smaller allowance will be just fine.

Switching to a new mobile and broadband plan to get a more satisfying service

Many factors can cause a customer to be left unsatisfied by the services they receive from a provider: bad network connection (which you can check via our free and instant Internet speed test), unsatisfactory customer service, too restrictive offer... all these are legitimate reasons to either seek a different offer with your provider or change providers altogether.

Make sure before you do so that you are no longer bound to a contract, or else you will end up paying hefty fees are mentioned above.

Switching to a new mobile or broadband provider when moving home

Moving to a new house or apartment in France is another big reason to change providers, and can be an opportunity to start afresh with a better telecom deal. It should be noted, though, that your new home may not be eligible to all types of offers, depending on what French region you are in.

In the case of a move abroad, if you are moving back home to the UK for instance, you will be exempt from paying additional fees to put an end to the contract.

Need help to determine which offers and technologies your new home will be eligible to? You can simply call Selectra, at 09 77 55 72 27, or ask for a free callback Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 9 pm and 9:30 am to 6:30 pm on Saturdays and on Sundays 9 am to 5 pm. An English-speaking advisor will be able to test the eligibility of your line directly,  and then find you a cell phone/internet deal that will suit your needs and new home.

How to change your providers: the steps to follow

Whether you wish to change your cell phone plan and/or internet package, below is how to proceed.

How to change a mobile phone provider


To switch to a new phone subscription, there is no need to notify your current provider. Indeed, you will simply have to contact the new subscriber to get a plan set up.

You will be asked whether you wish to keep your phone number, or whether you prefer to get a new one. If the customer wants their number to stay the same, they will have to ask for what is called a "demande de portabilité". Here is how this works:

  • Using the line you wish to keep, ring 3179
  • You will be connected to an automatic vocal server that will read out your RIO number and then send it to you via SMS. This RIO phone number is a 12-digit number unique to your line that is used to transfer a phone number from one provider to another.
  • Communicate your RIO code to the new provider. They will then take the necessary measures to transfer your phone number onto the new contract.

If on the other hand, you would rather change your phone number, simply notify your provider and all you will have to do is give them your personal details. You should receive your new SIM card within typically 2 to 7 days. Some providers may charge you for it, but it will generally be as cheap as €1.

How to change an internet provider

If you wish to change your broadband supplier, then the process is a little different. It is important to have chosen your new and specific offer before you start the steps to cancel your current offer. You can find out here about the current best internet deals in France, to get an insight into the best offers around at the moment.

Then, the steps to follow are as such:

  • The first thing to do is to notify your current provider that you wish to put an end to your plan. Directly get in touch with the customer service to do so.
  • You will then need to put your request into words and send off a cancellation letter to your provider, and have it signed for (with an "accusé de réception"). The letter can state for the contract to stop immediately, or at a later date of your choice. Once they have received your demand, the provider will put an end to your plan within 10 days after the date you have stated.

Once you receive the confirmation of reception sent back to you by the provider, you will have to return the entirety of the equipment that was rented to you, via mail, to the address that was given to you by your provider.

How much does it cost to cancel a mobile or broadband subscription in France?

The answer to this is that it depends on your provider, and whether or not you were tied to a contract at the time of the change.

Need help to cancel your contract and change providers? Simply get in touch with the English speaking advisors at Selectra, by calling 09 77 55 72 27, or ask for a free callback.

Cancellation: the fixed fees

Fixed fees for a contract cancellation only concern internet subscriptions. These can vary from one provider to another. You are obliged to pay them, however, if you are switching providers, your new provider will then refund the fees. If you are cancelling an internet plan without subscribing to another one, then there is no refund possible.

Operators Fixed cancellation fees
Free 49€
Orange 50€
SFR 50€
Bouygues Telecom 59€

Cancellation: variable fees

These fees are what you owe your provider if you terminate a plan if you are still tied to a contract. These are variable for both fixed-line and mobile phone lines. The longer you had left to your contract ending, the higher these fees will be.

Here is how you can calculate these phone plan cancellation fees:

  • For contract-free subscriptions: no fees to pay
  • For a 12-month contract: you will need to pay the entirety of the monthly payments left. For instance, if you cancel a €20/month plan after 7 months, you will have to pay (12-7) x 20 = €100.
  • For a 24-month contract: it depends when you cancel. If you do so within the first 12 months, you will pay the entirety of the monthly payments due till the 12 months + the cost for 3 extra months. If you cancel anytime after the 13th month, you will need to pay only a quarter of the payments left.

Will I experience a line cut during the provider change?

You won't always have your line cut when switching to another supplier.

The duration of a cut when changing mobile provider

As explained above, you have the choice to either keep your phone number or get a new one. Depending on which option you decide on, the delay will vary:

  • If you asked to get a new number, you won't be affected by a phone line cut. You will be able to use your new number as soon as you receive the associated SIM card.
  • If you asked to keep your number, you will be subject to a line cut in order to operate the transfer of your line from the former provider to the new one. If you purchase your SIM online, a text will be sent out to you to notify you of the date and time of the interruption. This said, even though the cut period is always given as a long interval of a few hours, the actual interruption shouldn't last more than around 10 minutes.

The duration of a cut when changing internet provider

Delays may be quite long in this case. The transition is typically operated within 3 days, but the actual service interruption lasts 4 hours at most.