Internet TV Phone Options

Ok so I'm not very tech savvy so bare with me.

I've just been on and it advises that we cannot get ADSL so it would appear that Satellite is the go. Can anyone advise the most feasible way of us getting Internet, phone (over the internet is fine) and TV (I assume French TV has no English speaking channels and while we want to learn French and integrate it would be nice to not to have to think too much all the time when we are watching TV :) )

Also any aussies that have moved over and taken their TV - has it been compatible. I read somewhere that your TV needs to be compatible in France.

We have a satellite dish on the house in France but not sure what the lady had before us - but she was English and so was the lady before her.

The option I have seen is Orange for about 40 euro a month - would like to try and get our costs cheaper than that but will see how we go.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.



Where terrestrial reception is concerned there are, in fact, differences between Oz and France in that VHF and UHF bands are used in Oz but only UHF in France. Also Oz uses 7 MHZ channels whereas France uses 8 MHZ channels and so you might encounter problems if trying to use the built in tuner, otherwise your TV should work fine with external receivers.

As you are more interested in English TV, satellite is the only way to go and your dish needs to be pointed at the Astra satellites at 28.2 E which will allow you to receive Free to air transmissions from BBC ,ITV and other channels including HD versions.There are basically 3 types of receiver you can use; a SKY box or a Freesat box which will also give you a 7 day EPG (programme guide,) alternatively any digital satellite receiver such as can be bought in local DIY stores can be used but you will not get the 7 day epg.. only what's on next.. for HD you need a DVB-S2 compatible box as opposed to DVB-S. Dish size depends on your location, following recent satellite changes many brits in France have had to increase their dish sizes recently Hope this helps..

One of the main reasons behind the insistence on renting the phone line comes from the fact that the biggest ISPs in most countries were the legacy phone companies, whether publicly or privately owned. IMHO, they were simply trying to protect the massive monopoly profits which arose from the fact that the users were accustomed to a particular way in which to make telephone calls, and who didn't want the hassles involved in finding and/or using less expensive methods.

It would, perhaps, be an interesting Business School project to study in detail why it was that the major French ISPs chose (or were forced by the competition) to offer the free calls as part of their packages. This doesn't seem to have happened much elsewhere, though, for some considerable time now, cable TV operators around the world have been offering significantly lower call costs than the legacy phone companies. Perhaps it was the French Telecoms Regulator that made a small rule that was overlooked by other countries. Perhaps elsewhere the phone companies told their regulators that the revenue loss would be unsupportable, and then sobbed all the way to the bank. The question of how this arose remains academic, but I, for one, am perfectly satisfied with paying about €32 a month to cover the great majority of my phone calls, my unlimited 6 Mb/s Internet connection, and French TV channels should I want them, as well as a few other services which I do occasionally make use of.


Thank you very much for the explanation. When I lived in Oz, you required a line rental to get adsl even if you never used it for the phone.

One more reason I wont be using the "expert" ever again. I'll try to sort it next time I am in France

Ha Ha thanks Ian - that's what I mean about not being tech saavy lol

(Warning - This message is boringly technical. It tries to give an overview of some of the issues involved in ADSL & telephone lines, as well as how many French ISPs offer free French & International phone calls. Please be warned!)

Steve - The two options you describe are how it works in many countries. In France, however, the phone line option, your option 2, does not require the user to rent a phone line. The subscription to an Internet service provider (ISP or FAI in French) includes the use of the copper pair of wires from your house to the telephone exchange. These wires are not connected to the 'legacy" 'analogue telephone network at the exchange. You cannot therefore dial out using a traditional 'analogue' phone using these wires nor can you receive calls.

The wires can, however, carry large amounts of data, at quite high speed, but the laws of physics mean that the shorter the cable, the higher the speed and volume of data that can be carried. This data can include all sorts of 'stuff' including tiny parts of phone calls.

Information is carried to & fro over the link in small 'packets' These packets are in a digital format, and carry additional information which allows them to be to be checked, and, if some small transmission error had crept in, reconstituted correctly, without pausing. (There is also a mechanism which calls for them to be re-sent in the case of more serious errors, with a set of checks and double-checks in order to be sure that what goes forwards is identical to that which had been sent.) This is the basis of almost all 'digital' communication, whether it's ADSL, Digital TV or radio (DAB), satellite communication or whatever, as well as CDs & DVDs.

Such 'packets' of data are what are sent & received whenever you send or read e-mails, browse the web, or whatever. VOIP, (Voice over Internet Protocol) of which Skype is an example, is simply the use of these packets to carry the sounds of people's voices across the Internet, as what we term a 'telephone call'. When we use Skype, or a similar service, we would never have a problem if the packets making up our call didn't ever get delayed or lost along the way. In the real world, that actually happens, at which point we might hit problems hearing the other party, or suffer from distortion, or some other problem arises.

Many French ISPs actually build a kind of Skype system into their boxes (aka. routers) so that an old-fashioned (analogue) telephone can plug into the box & actually make phone calls simply by dialing the required number. The ISP organizes the connection of this call to the public network and, as distinct from a Skype call, ensures that the packets that make up the call get priority over other kinds of Internet packets in order to minimize their chance of getting lost or delayed. It is then a commercial decision to make such calls free to landlines in France and other countries, whilst charging a profitable rate for calls to mobiles & high cost countries like Egypt, most of Africa & so on.

In essence, all that is required is for the Internet router/box to contain the necessary software and hardware to convert telephone calls into data packets (& vice-versa) and to manage setting-up a new call & responding appropriately to an incoming call. Whilst this might be a gross simplification of what happens, it is happening millions of times per day all over France as we speak. The users appear to like it, even if they rarely make international calls, and its a godsend for us expats.

Really showing my age, I remember telexes and when dial up went up to 9,200 (IIRC) - to put that in context, thats not megabytes or bits but actual speed (well under 1% of what we would complain about now). And it involved a very expensive long distance call to Sydney (which was 200 miles away) for the whole time you were connected

I am still lost - My "expert" - and dont get me started on him - has set me me up on a roughly 40/month scheme, about half for the line rental and half for the associated ADSL. I am in a small village but dont know how far away the exchange is

What Peter said is quite right - if you can get a decent adsl line. In our area, we are too far from the exchange and had to go the satellite route. The line speed is the equivalent of dial-up, if you remember those days!!


I am a bit lost (some cruel people would say that is not unusual)

I thought there were two main alternatives:

  1. Internet connection (and hence VOIP) via satellite, using a satellite dish on your roof/grounds
  2. Internet connection (and hence VOIP) via ADSL , using the phone line to your place (and hence requiring rental (and payment) of a phone line

Appreciate any clarification

Jo, I wouldn't worry too much about this if you get signed up with Orange (or most of the other French ISPs). A particularity of most French ISPs is that, as part of the deal, you get almost unlimited free (i.e. at no additional charge) international phone calls to landlines in over 100 countries. The calls have to be made through the Internet line, but such calls are high quality & quite different from Skype or other VOIP Internet telephone services. (I could bore you with all the technical reasons behind this.)

We use this service to keep in touch with the UK, Oz, NZ & several other European countries. It often amazes people that we offer to call them back on an international call, as it costs us absolutely nothing. In our case, the only limits are that no call can last more than 3 hours. Even when chatting to the children/grand-children one hour is typically the maximum. Some other ISPs also specify no more than 99 different call recipients per month. This is primarily to stop businesses abusing the system.

The other thing about French ISPs is that there is no need to rent a 'normal' phone line to get an ADSL-based Internet service. This would normally cost €16 per month, but the phone line provided through the router (generally referred to as a 'box') is, for most people, an adequate substitute. It isn't, however, quite as reliable as an actual phone line. If your box goes completely on the blink, you have no phone service until the problem's solved. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, most people who understand the system prefer to save the nearly €200 pa. Such a problem only seems to occur about once in five or six years, IME, so most people can live with the risk. There are, in addition, occasional short-lived problems with the ADSL link being lost, but faults can occur on the 'old' phone network as well, though much less often.

Skype is VOIP. It's just a brand name.

If you think that when you are making your call, it goes 25,000 miles (approx) up to the satellite, and the same back down to the base station in Italy and in then routed over the internet to the recipient, an occasional lag of a second or two is pretty miraculous!

It's not perfect, but we have got used to it. The only other option was for an FT landline for calls, and the satellite option works out cheaper

Thanks Ian - that's great.

Can you use Skype on the internet instead of Voip - would this stop the lagging?



Hi Jo

We had the same problem with ADSL and went down the Tooway route. Can't really fault the internet connection, though we did lose it for half an hour the other evening in the very high winds. I think the dish lost the line to the satellite.

We also use tooway for the telephone, over VOIP, but it has pro's and con's. You can have any area code you want programmed into the box - we have a Southampton number, as this is where we lived in the UK and most of our calls come from that area, but it can also be French if you desire. The down side of satellite VOIP is that we occssionaly get lag on the calls - what you see on the news when they are talking to someone in the middle east or the states. You get used to it by allowing about a couple of seconds before you reply, or you end up talking over each other.

We had to get a separate dish for TV, as if you want unlimited downloads from Tooway, it can get expensive. Doubtful you will get Tooway under 40 euros, we shopped around and at the time the cheapest deals were from Avonline Broadband in the UK. They have installers in France and you can be billed in euros or sterling.


Thanks Simon

Hi Peter

Our TV is a 52" Samsung something but has USB ports on the side of it and I think HDMI connector - will check when I get home. Hopefully it should be ok would be a shame to take it all that way and it not even work.


Jo, France used to operate on a very particular Colour TV system called SECAM but that is all finished now. All local French TV is transmitted as digital using DVB-T standards, which are the same as used in Oz, & many channels are also available in HD. I don't know anybody who has brought a TV in with them from Oz recently, but wouldn't expect any problems.

As for receiving English-language TV programmes via satellite, you're probably going to have to buy a satellite receiver. These usually come with various connection possibilities that work with almost any (non-US) TV, but it would clearly be best if your TV has an HDMI connector, & preferably two, if you want HD programmes. (If it's a 32" TV, or smaller, don't worry too much about HD, as the difference between Standard Definition & High definition is then only marginal.)

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