The line of least re­sis­tance

Tips for sav­ing money on your phone and broad­band con­nec­tion

Living France - - Contents -

With most homes now hav­ing at least six in­ter­net-con­nected de­vices, most peo­ple want a good broad­band ser­vice as well as a re­li­able tele­phone line. The mar­ket re­ally has changed from when we started out 15 years ago, when all we could of­fer was low-cost calls and ‘dial-up’!

In­ter­net ac­cess has be­come es­sen­tial to mod­ern-day liv­ing, and most peo­ple would prob­a­bly strug­gle to imag­ine what life would be like without it now. For those liv­ing in France, a good in­ter­net con­nec­tion at their French home is of­ten at the top of the pri­or­ity list, whether it’s for keep­ing in touch with fam­ily and friends, ac­cess­ing English TV pro­grammes or be­ing able to work from home.

If you’re just start­ing out on your house-hunt­ing jour­ney, you can check the gen­eral broad­band speed in your prop­erty search area by vis­it­ing the web­site ob­ser­va­toire.francethd.fr.

If you’ve al­ready found the home you want to buy, you can check the ac­tual speed avail­able on­line at de­grouptest.com. If you know which tele­phone com­pany you will use you can call and ask them to do these tests for you, and to help you in­ter­pret the re­sults.

Once you’ve es­tab­lished how fast your in­ter­net con­nec­tion is likely to be, how can you make sure you’re get­ting the best deal on your broad­band and tele­phone ser­vice and aren’t spend­ing more than you have to? Here are some es­sen­tial money-sav­ing tips to keep in mind.

IN­STALLING A NEW LINE

Costs have re­cently changed for new line in­stal­la­tions. It will now cost €59 for all con­nec­tions, in­stead of the €55 pre­vi­ously charged for re­mote con­nec­tions, and €134 for lines that were un­used for two years or more and re­quired tech­ni­cian at­ten­dance. Al­low be­tween five and 10 work­ing days for a line to be ac­ti­vated and a fur­ther 10 days for broad­band. Set­ting up your new line in the right way to be­gin with is also im­por­tant, es­pe­cially if you want to be ex-directory ( liste rouge). You can also choose from sev­eral other free line ser­vices that in­clude with­hold­ing your num­ber, num­ber per­ma­nently with­held and the abil­ity to find out who called you last. There are a num­ber of op­tions that can be ap­plied to your line at your lo­cal ex­change at a cost of €1 per month, such as num­ber or name dis­play, an­swer­phone and call wait­ing. You may also want to sign up for the new French ser­vice ‘Bloc­tel’, which is rather like the Tele­phone Pref­er­ence Ser­vice in the UK, de­signed to stop un­wanted sales calls. You can find out more about the Bloc­tel ser­vice on­line by vis­it­ing bloc­tel.gouv.fr.

For those who might ini­tially be buy­ing a prop­erty as a sec­ond home be­fore mak­ing a per­ma­nent move later on, you may want to have a line and broad­band con­nec­tion that can be sus­pended when you are not there. Or­ange has a ser­vice called ligne rési­dence sec­ondaire, which is only avail­able for sec­ond home-own­ers.

If your broad­band speed is fast enough, have your calls put over your broad­band ser­vice. All com­pa­nies should of­fer this money-sav­ing ser­vice known as dé­groupage to­tal, which is less ex­pen­sive as you don’t have to pay for line rental. Now is the time to find out if you are el­i­gi­ble and set it up. You will need a min­i­mum broad­band speed of 2MB, oth­er­wise your words will be clipped and some calls will drop out. A 2MB speed is also needed to watch video without buffer­ing. One point to note – make sure you have a mo­bile phone so that your broad­band sup­plier can speak with you and run tests to get the ser­vice work­ing quickly again should you ex­pe­ri­ence any prob­lems.

MAK­ING AND RE­CEIV­ING CALLS

Most peo­ple will find they make more calls in France than they did when they were in the UK, so make sure you choose the right call pack­age. You will al­most cer­tainly make more in­ter­na­tional calls so think about this too, and check whether a payas-you-go op­tion will be cheaper.

Many com­pa­nies will change or sus­pend call pack­ages for you as well – check be­fore you sign up! Re­mem­ber that calling mo­biles and UK mar­ket­ing num­bers will not usu­ally be in­cluded. You can avoid a lot of ex­pen­sive UK mar­ket­ing num­bers

by find­ing the stan­dard tele­phone num­ber on the web­site saynoto0870.com.

Friends and fam­ily can save money when calling you in France too. Re­cent big in­creases in the cost of calling a French num­ber us­ing a stan­dard BT line can be eas­ily avoided, and there are no con­tracts in­volved. BT now charges a 12p con­nec­tion charge and 40p per minute, but you can check if your pre­ferred French tele­com com­pany will ‘trans­late’ your num­ber into a low-cost UK num­ber.

This will not af­fect your ser­vice but you can give this new num­ber to friends and fam­ily in the UK and they will only pay the 12p con­nec­tion charge and 3p per minute, re­duc­ing the cost of a 10-minute BT call from £4.12 to 42p.

You could save more money by con­nect­ing your mo­bile to your broad­band wifi. This will al­low you to make free Face­book Mes­sen­ger, Face­Time, What­sApp and Skype calls from your mo­bile when it is in range, sav­ing your data al­lowance for times when you have no other choice but to use it.

MO­BILE PHONES

Most util­ity en­gi­neers who are com­ing to con­nect ser­vices to your French home will not call an in­ter­na­tional mo­bile. You will prob­a­bly want them to switch on the wa­ter, gas and elec­tric­ity sup­ply and ac­ti­vate the tele­phone line for your ar­rival, which means you will need a French mo­bile.

A pre­paid SIM could be the so­lu­tion – all you will need is an un­blocked phone and it will be much cheaper than sign­ing up to a nor­mal monthly con­tract that in­cludes a new mo­bile phone with a min­i­mum fixed term and hand­set, es­pe­cially if you don’t an­tic­i­pate us­ing it very much.

Be care­ful which provider you use. You can check whether the com­pany you’re con­sid­er­ing has good lo­cal cov­er­age on­line at que­choisir.org/carte-in­ter­ac­tive-re­seau­mo­bile-n21247/, and you should also check whether you will lose any credit you’ve paid for but not used within a spec­i­fied amount of time.

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