Keep in touch
Planning how you will set up your telephone and internet connections at your French home is worth doing sooner rather than later, as Bob Elliott explains
Managing your move to France does not stop with signing the acte de vente at the notaire’s office! Certain aspects such as organising a removals company are obvious, but getting your telephone and broadband services in place at your new home can all too easily be left until they cannot be installed on the day you move in. For many, keeping in touch with family and friends in the UK is an important part of a move to France, so it’s worth adding this to your list of things to think about.
Whichever company you choose, they will all be using the same national network to carry your calls and broadband, and they will be using the very same sub-contract engineers to maintain and repair the equipment. Your choice will therefore probably be determined by price and the level of customer care.
Where customer care is concerned, it is all about the ‘last leg’ of the service between the local exchange and your property. For expats, it therefore comes down to a choice between a slightly lower cost for some services from the national companies, or ease of setting up and maintaining services from an expat specialist offering additional services that the big companies do not, a number of which are free.
Expat buyers of French property tend to fall into one of two categories, having either bought a holiday home (about 25% of our customers are in this group) or moving to a new permanent address. By definition, holiday homeowners will not be at the property for much of the year and some choose to have a ligne résidence secondaire, a line-rental service that can be suspended when not in use. This is only available from Orange, which has a monopoly for this service. The line can also carry a slower broadband service that can be suspended.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS
Some expat service providers offer to manage your line installation, and this is very popular. Difficulties such as engineers not being able to locate you and problems with technical French are all removed from the equation. Remember that the French engineers will not call a UK mobile, so you will need to get a French SIM if you intend to manage this yourself.
If the property has previously had a live telephone line and it was live within the last two years, you can pay a reduced connection fee if you are able to give either the old telephone number or name of the subscriber. The line can then be activated remotely for €55, otherwise connection will be charged at €124. Remote connection takes five working days, while lines that require an engineer’s attendance will take up to 10 working days.
Activation has to be arranged via Orange, but this can be done by a specialist provider. Orange will also ask if you intend to use broadband on the line; if you do they will automatically ask you to sign their 12-month contract for services.
If you want to use an alternative provider you must say you do not want broadband – it makes no difference to the line at all! Once the line is installed, you can contact the provider with the best offers for you and they will have the line transferred to them, and apply broadband to it if you want to have that service. In the UK you can order both a new line and broadband at the same time, but in France the line must be working first. It will take about 10 working days from ordering broadband to activation.
THE COSTS INVOLVED
If no line has been installed, you will be responsible for undertaking the necessary work between your boundary and house. This can take the form of digging a trench for the new cable to be laid in, or, if it is to be overhead, from a pole, ensuring no trees are in the way. You will also have to drill a hole in the external wall for the cable. The installation includes just one socket, and should you want more than that, you will probably find it cheaper to use a local electrician, or do the work yourself. If you intend to use an extension cable for your telephone, make sure you choose one with a round cross-section, as flat ones suffer from electrical interference that will affect your broadband.
If your new home is close enough to the local exchange to have a broadband speed of 2MB, you can choose to have all your calls put over the broadband service. This service, called dégroupage total, disables your voice side of the line and you no longer have to pay the line rental charge of €17.96 per month. Beware of companies miss-selling this product as there is a minimum contract, usually of 12 months.
If the speed is too slow, calls will be of unacceptable quality, which means you’ll be obliged to reinstate the landline and pay a new €55 connection charge, as well as the balance of the original contract. You can find out the speed of your broadband service by visiting degrouptest.com to avoid the problem, and if