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Internet Options in Rural Parts of France: Is satellite worth it?

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Depending on where you live in France, ADSL broadband may be slow or unavailable. Here's how to get online if your home in France is in a zone blanche.

  • Internet in Rural France: The basics
  • Internet via satellite is the best alternative to broadband in areas not covered by a broadband provider (zones blanches)
  • Satellite Internet requires a considerable up-front investment, but may offer faster speed than broadband

How Does Internet via Satellite Work?

Satellite Internet uses geostationary satellites (meaning that the satellites remain in a fixed position relative to a certain point on Earth) to deliver internet signals to your home (rather than telephone lines or cable systems). Three main pieces of equipment are required for Internet via satellite: a geostationary satellite (in space), a satellite dish (mounted on your home), and a modem (which transmits internet signals from the dish to your computer/electronic device).

Internet Speed

While satellite Internet remains slower than fiber optic and high-speed broadband, it is a vast improvement on dial-up Internet (satellite Internet can be 10 times faster than dial-up). In fact, at 2Mb/s to 22Mb/s depending on the operator and plan, speed for Internet via satellite can reach close to ADSL speeds.

Internet via Satellite Providers in France

The following companies provide Internet via satellite equipment and subscriptions:

  • NordNet: created in 1995, NordNet is now a subsidiary of Orange, and provides satellite Internet, ADSL, Internet security, and website hosting services. NordNet has two offers for Internet via satellite: a 10 Giga/month plan and a 15 Giga/month plan.
  • Alsatis
  • Vivéole
  • Connection Verte
  • Ozone
  • Sat2Way
  • Universat

Broadband or Satellite?

Depending on where you live and your needs, satellite Internet may be more practical than signing up for a broadband Internet plan. Internet access is still unavailable in some parts of rural France, which are too far from broadband subscriber access nodes to be able to access Internet connection. If your home is located in one of these zones blanches, ADSL broadband is not an option in your area, leaving you with accessing Internet via cellular networks (3G/4G), WiMax, or satellite. Of these options, satellite Internet offers the best speeds and reliability.

However, if your home is in an area in which ADSL is slow but still available, satellite may or may not be the best option, depending on your needs.

Broadband vs Satellite: Prices

While prices can vary amongst providers, on the whole Internet via satellite is more expensive than broadband, especially when the required equipment is taken into account. A satellite kit can range from €100 to €400, though some providers include the cost of the equipment in their plans. A broadband modem - often called a "box" - on the other hand, often comes as part of a monthly plan, or can be rented for as little as €3/month. Once the satellite equipment is purchased and installed, plans can be comparable to broadband plans, though data volume is limited. More generous data allowances with satellite Internet are more expensive, and can reach up to €90/month.

Broadband vs Satellite: Speed

Depending on the speed of your broadband Internet, satellite Internet can often be an interesting alternative. Some satellite providers offer plans that deliver Internet speeds that can reach the same as urban broadband connections (22Mb/s). However, keep in mind that satellite Internet speed can sometimes be affected by the weather, which can sometimes slow or even cut connections.

Broadband vs Satellite: Data Volume

Satellite Internet data allowances can range from very small (the cheapest options - as little as 2Go/month) to unlimited data. Broadband Internet data allowances, on the other hand, are unlimited. However, keep in mind that most satellite providers offer unlimited data allowances at night - check with your provider to determine the hours.

Broadband vs Satellite: Commitment

Some satellite providers offer monthly plans sans engagement, allowing you to leave at any time without penalty. Others, however, only offer plans with a contract (avec engagement) obliging you to stay with the same provider for 12 to 24 months. It is easier to find a broadband provider that offers a contract-free plan than a satellite Internet provider.

Deciding Between Broadband or Satellite

While satellite Internet can be the faster option in some areas, it can also be very expensive. If you have a choice between broadband and satellite Internet, your decision will come down to where you find yourself on the tradeoff between speed and cost.

Interested in Satellite Internet?Call our English-speaking customer service at 09 77 55 72 27 (Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 7:30 pm) to help you find the satellite solution that meets your needs.