Internet access in France

Being living in such kind expensive country like UK too long and haven’t find any matching income, I decided to move more suitable country like Spain. As France stands between those countries and when I got invitation to stay with two lesbian girls in the nice countryside in the middle of France, I was more than happy to continue my work living with them.

My work isn’t related to particular place and homeless person as I am, I can work anywhere in world where is Internet connection. My limit is only that as Estonian born citizen I’m still stuck in expensive Europe and will need visas and work permits to be elsewhere in the world.

Having mobile broadband technology available in 3G networks, my situation should have become much better as besides WiFi hotspots, I now have the possibility to use Internet practically everywhere from 3G mobile networks.

At least theoretically is should be so.

I got myself Vodaphone dongle from UK and besides Vodaphone, it worked well also using T-Mobile in UK. Both of them offered mobile broadband data plans around £20 per month for my needs limited to 1 or 3 GB monthly data transfer which was I was expecting elsewhere in Europe.

Quick research showed that same kind of plan is available from Vodaphone Spain for 58 EUR, so I assumed that I could get just kind of deal also in France.

When visiting SFR (local Vodaphone owned shop), they had similar plan available for 89 EUR but their restrictions where absurd.

You need to purchase their Dongle, you need to have permanent address in France, local bank account and you must use their service at least a year!!!

What kind of mobile broadband it is when I must have permanent address somwhere and what kind of use to I have opening French bank account where is no money. Why they just can’t accept VISA cards?

Even getting prepaid SIM card from SFR would have costs 30 EUR and their top up credits where valid only from a week up to two month. That’s a robbery in daylight!!!

If I have purchased certain amount of mobile credits I expect it to have mine for the period I decide it to have and not to be forced to use it for the period mobile operator wants it.

Orange had same kind of restrictions for mobile broadband. Orange has also offers to WiFi Internet cards where you can use Internet with a price level 6 EUR per hour using their hotspots (usually at the front of their stores). I’m earning maximum 10 EUR per hour so paying most of it for Orange was out of the question for me.

From BoygTel I was able to get finally my SIM card with reasonable price but getting mobile broadband from them, I still should have had at least French bank account and they insisted that I must purchase their Dongle even my UK Vodaphone Dongle showed their network to connect. That what I tried to explain that they need only to enter my Dongle MAC address in the shop but probably some other persons somewhere are dealing with it so shop assistants have no rights to open mobile broadband accounts directly as it was in UK.

As I didn’t had any other possibilities, my choice was to use BoygTel expensive Dataplan for my mobile with around 20 EUR per meg to hope at least to read my emails.

To my surprise this simple thing didn’t work either. In the area where I lived, only two networks named 88 and 08 showed up. Both of them didn’t had any GPRS capabilities not talking about 3G. So, I was glad that I didn’t spend more money and sign in to mobile broadband contract in France. They first need to build their 3G networks here.

But I still expected to access my emails and hoped to do some work while in France. Nearest town Chateroux had WiFi enabled McDonalds so spending 6 EUR to meal, I hoped to do some work there.

This wasn’t so easy as their WiFi was limited, I was able only to browse web and all other ports where restricted. And to my surprise they disconnect you after every 20-30 minutes and as their WiFi was so slow I wasn’t able even to download 6MB file within this period.

Trying to get my MSN work with my mobile phone and BoygTel connection was another problem. First the MSN French version shows up and after some tries, I was able to get English version showing by typing

Trying to access was ending up to the error message that page is too large.

However, it never authenticated my login to my hotmail mailbox. Later I have seen here lot of DNS problems, as several of my sites are not found so I assume there just was a DNS problem with MSN login servers.

I had spent over 50 EUR for those mobile Internet tries and my prepaid credit went out so I decided not to renew it anymore.

We decided to have Orange broadband thru ADSL in our house at any costs. It had 29.95 EUR offer with phone, TV and multimedia broadband what they are advertised a lot. Even young girls in the street will give you their flyer.

Orange promised it within 10 days, and when we ordered it on Tuesday (Monday is free day in France usually), I hoped it to be installed early next week.

To our surprise we got only letter within this period stating that French Telecom will become to install the phone line after two weeks. Within next few days our ADSL router box arrived by post. So we had another weeks to wait before we could have any use of this box.

They installed the line, which took around ten minutes, but there still wasn’t ADSL signal in this line. We instructed to wait another week for ADSL signal.

There where no router password, so we weren’t able to test the line and signal ourselves and reconfigure the wireless protocol.

Month had gone by without me unable to do any work and earn money.

I went to Paris. At least most of the Paris parks have extremely good WiFi hotspots with fast Internet access. But I can’t charge my batteries in park so what I really miss were foldable solar panel charger. Those are still extremely expensive (£399 for 25W).

Paris had some other WiFi hotspots as well and what I noticed, that those places are extremely popular as people become to work on parks and those WiFi hotspots instead sitting in the office.

When I got back from Paris, the situation in the countryside had changed. The owner of the house didn’t like our activities at all to install broadband there and throw us out. He’s business idea was selling this house for stupid Brits for 85K EUR who would love the quiet French country life and broadband wasn’t much helping his idea.

I’m surprised why somebody will pay for it 85K as similar houses where to sell in local real-estate agency for 40K-60K EUR. To the nearest supermarket it’s still over 20km and nearest city Chateroux is 100 kilometres away.

But you never understand Brits; they are buying houses for 30-50 year mortgage to the areas that will be flooded after 20 years due to global warming so nothing surprises me. I think authorities should investigate those deals as insurance scams.

So back to Chateroux desperate to get any Internet access. Local library had only three computers with Internet where you could get limited browsing only for an hour if you have ID and permanent address somewhere.

To my surprise, tourist information centre had free WiFi and it even worked after several tries inside but trying to access it from outside it was too unreliable. Sometimes it does not get network address, sometimes it just hangs on waiting and usually you will be disconnected within few minutes anyway. Seems, that messing WiFi’s in same channel is nearby.

So I went to Limoges.

The public library (medioteca) in Limoges is big modern building as City landmark with extremely good WiFi capabilities. However now is the third day when their routing outside does not work? However here I could have nice working conditions as it could be in Limoges Tourist Information Centre when they will get their WiFi area ready. It went to renovation last week and promised to be ready next week.

Meanwhile I found good access to unsecured WiFi accsess to Apple Network when going upstairs to parking space across the road of City Hall. You can get to the same network when sitting in front of City Hall Park but it’s unreliable there so better take stairs to that parking space.

I haven’t yet found any other open WiFi networks here; the University one needs user account so was one other where I registered without any feedback. Orange and Neuf are too expensive selling Internet 15 minute basis.

But it’s still odd that even having mobile broadband technically available I’m still stuck with open free WiFi points and unable to make decent deal with mobile operators.

Let’s hope that other cities in France will take Paris initiative to have free WiFi available in every park. Parks could be the future working environments instead of depressive office buildings.

But as the weather was getting colder here, I’m soon starting to move towards to Spain and my next challenge will be to get Internet access there.