Britty Internet Alternatives

Anyone here use an alternative service for phone and Internet? I am sick of Orange with its high prices and terrible service. Several people have mentioned Phonexpat, for example?



I agree about the telephone line - I dream about fibre optics! We are non degroupe (or whatever) so just have broadband and telephone. I’ve had varying success with customer service and have been very surprised by their speed and courtesy. Always frustrated with the “press 1 for… 2 for…”

Diane, living in the country is nice but one does give up the benefits of living in the city close to facilities like good internet connectivity and telephone service. I wouldn’t count on any internet company providing better service in rural areas for many years because the Return on Investments they need to compensate the cost will not be there due to the low population in the area. If I ever move, one of the considerations would be the level of internet service bandwidth that is available because these days our life is getting more and more connected with the internet, TV and telephone.

Pat, we too have Degroupage Total for 29.00 euros a month and can call the US and Brazil (my wife’s home country) free as often as we wish. There is a limit to the “unlimited” broadband and that is the quality and bandwidth of your telephone line which is owned by FT and rented to Free. If it is fiber optic, you get great bandwidth but ours is stil wire and the best I get is 6 gb but normally it’s more like 3 gb. It’s not Free’s problem. It’s just where we live and the distance we live from the FT central office serving us. Also, going totally with Free makes one vunerable to outages of which we’ve seen a few during which we have no telephone, internet or TV. Overall, I can’t complain with Free except when it comes to customer service which is slow and insufficiently manned to handle their client base. However, this is true of all the French internet providers. Customer service is something the French don’t give sufficient importance in my opinion.

Hi Andy

I contacted PhoneExpat, it took them 12 weeks to respond and then they told me that I couldn't receive broadband on my line as it wasn't suitable. Funny thing that as I already had a service with Orange; so from my experience I'd not be able to recommend them. We've recently moved to SFR and so far so good after a period of 10 days or so for the change over - not forgetting Orange (France Telecom) will terminate your line (if you switch lock stock to SFR) as soon as they receive your notice to change from SFR.

Hope this helps


I have seen the comments about SFR. Just beware though. I know two people (one in Dordogne and one in Allier) who have switched to SFR but because they are out in the sticks they have been told they need to keep France Telecom ‘abonnement’ in order to have access to the internet so it isnt cheaper any longer. They dont seem to check out who this will affect when you enquire about switching to SFR.

I have just switched from Orange to SFR - for internet and phone - all calls to landline numbers in the uk and parts of europe are free and unlimited much cheaper than orange and france telecom !

Thanks for the Michael. Maybe I do have a bit of ammunition to at least get a wee discount if not faster service.

ok. then I guess I still don't know my speed possible, but see they say the line is 1295 meters long - which likely explains my speed issues and maybe the noise - if that is relatively high noise that could explain poor video quality. And obviously nothing can be done about my line. I did not know it was that long and it certainly explains a lot I think.

It's funny, a few years ago I was happy just to get reasonable browsing speed, now I'm cranky if I can't have video conferences at my desk. Not so long ago that was a mere fantasy. Now in my biz, working with creative professionals, it is a highly recommended meeting tool.

Thanks. A huge amount of really useful info. I checked degroupage and find I can get max 13.3385dB 0 I’m guessing that is 13mb? In which case I do need to speedtest again for awhile and go visit them with the times/speeds.

I am bit nervous about moving from biz to personal, as when I do need to go to Sarlat Orange store for something, when I tell them it is a biz account, and they check and confirm I get better service. Once they were going to make me phone and wait for a new livebox to be delivered, but when they learned I had a biz account they tested my dead box right then and there and gave me a new one. Perhaps the different stores follow policy more or less strictly.

And, yup, it’s longer than 12 months so a visit to the Orange store is in order, perhaps with my tech guy in tow as he is bilingual and can fight with them. They keep telling me I have the fastest I can get, but I can’t argue well with them.

Hi Michael,

My business is totally dependent on my phone/internet so I also choose to pay the extra for Orange. My neighbours have all had horror stories with the others with lines dead for days or weeks. I pay for the business line with Orange and in six years I’ve only had two problems that needed fixing by them - mostly to do with new houses going in around here and the connections needing resetting after the technicians messed with them. In both cases I was live again in hours.

QUESTION: I am not tech savvy at all (and my French is still hopeless) and have a livebox and the Internet phone option. You are right, the line quality is less than stellar. My highspeed also sadly while it should be 8mb barely makes 4 most of the time and drops below 250 for up at times. However, I’m on top of hill 4 km outside town, so guess it is what it is and I don’t imagine anyone else could make the infrastructure faster. Are you saying I’d have better quality if I just used the ‘two lines’ ADSL option I used to have? Before highspeed arrived here I had ADSL two lines and definitely did not have high speed. Thanks for helping me understand.


I used Phonexpat for several years, just for my long distance not broadband, and always found the sales service to be excellent and I never had any technical problems so can’t comment on tech. service.

I’m wondering too if sticking with Orange is the best idea. I always have for the phone/internet as my biz relies completely on my Internet and at least with an Orange business account I’ve had next day service for problems - which happen too often.

Thanks Stuart for suggesting Alsatis. The pricing is sure good, but I see 6 M/bsec is max speed. If that happened it would be fine. With Orange I pay for 8 M/bsec and get 5M to 8M down and sometimes as low as 300-400 up - which does not really support two way video conference. Any idea what kinds of speed your friend gets? At least it is likely more consistent than Orange.

Thanks chris… most useful, have in fact forwarded it to our house buyers who are moving here from Canada.

We have had Neuf ADSL with free fone calls worldwide, except portugal and Romania??? so going somewhere with no ADSL available is a bit of a pain.

I think we may end up with and also take an orange or SFR (neuf) basse debit phone and dial up connection as back up… I know wibox is like satellite, but don;t think there is the massive nearly 400 euros equipment charge, although I know in some white zones there are grants of 150 euros towards costs.

All in all is a nightmare to think of life sans ADSL… and it maybe best to wait till we get to the Normandy house in January. I really don;t want to connect the currently disconnected FT phone, which will cost, if I can find another phone provider with no connection fee…

Really appreciate your fab response and I am sure our buyers will too. I shall certainly arrange to cancel the neuf sub here by LRAR… we did try to just swap the name to our buyers, but they won;t have that… suppose they want to lock someone into a contract.

I remember when i cancelled Alice ADSL cos they were dreadful, there was a form to print off on their site, but can I find that on the Neuf site? no!!

thanks again… Diana

Thanks Anthony… I have looked at that site… interesting. Problem is are not able to access ADSL at new house, is in a white zone,so need to go with satellite or similar… Not sure if they provide free calls… Maybe better to just do Orange dial up and calls and wait and see if they ever get ADSL in the village.

Exhausting trawling through so many sites, in French!!

Thanks again… Diana

Andy I started with phonexpat and found them nowhere near as cheap as they say and moved to UK Telecom( line rental and call package with unlimited calls to UK and French landlines for €28,50 incl. tax/mth. They do other packages including broadband.

For calls to mobiles which I do a lot for business I use - OK you have to dial an initial number and then the mobile no. but 12c/min to UK, 10c to USA, 9c/min to Australia mobiles etc are cheapest calls to mobiles I’ve come across. Programme your phone with the telerabais call up number saves a lot of time and through UK Telecom the telerabais call up is free.

For internet I still use Orange and a Live box @ €29,90/mth which I have to say over 5 years I’ve had no problems with - apart from losing one through storms, my fault for not unplugging, and I am on it all day every day. Wireless connection works fine as well all round the house for laptops. For a small village in the Aude we get quite good speed - not as advertised which is 20MB but have had up to 15MB, average is 7-8MB except when the kids come home from school!

Just my penny’s worth!

Thanks Debbie… we are in a white area so no ADSL available… I wonder if they will ever get rid of the white areas?

I guess we will have to try and speak with the Mairie when we get there in January, but I think the option of wibox and for dial up maybe the way forward in the first instance, although expensive.

Many thanks. Diana

We had internet in our local village and my surrounding neighbours had it too but although it was available, they said we could not be connected. Through our own investigations we discovered the reason was because we had a Shared Line. We asked BT if they could give us our own line and hey-presto we got Internet. I use which are great now but am loathe to disconnect from FT and use them solely because I need a land-line phone for my business if the internet goes down.
It was also strange because when I enquired at the beginning, both the Mairie and FT insisted that I had to change my telephone number to include 25 in order to obtain the internet - to this day I don’t know why it was relevant and it was a b…dy nuisance having to contact everyone with the new telephone number !
Things are never straight forward in France are they !

Hi again Pat… i visited the site…and tested the phone number… as with all other ISPs no coverage for internet as in a white zone… so will have to be i think for internet. Free do appear to do a telephone service with basse debitt… have been working my way around the French details…

May be worth gettting 'phone from them and dial up service and they will no doubt advise if ADSL available in the future…

Thanks again.,. Diana

Free don’t do telephone on its own. 29.99€ is for the package. All calls to the 103 destinations are free. Are you sure that there is no coverage at your new property? If you go to you can test the line for availability and strength.


Many thanks Pat… I shall look into the free for the telephone… considering satellite for the internet… Appreciate your reply…
Best wishes. Diana