How to choose your telecoms provider in France

How to choose your telecoms provider in France

Are you about to complete your house purchase and facing setting up the utilities? Good telecom services are more important than ever, and getting the best in terms of broadband, prices and services and customer care will be important. How can you choose the best?

National network

In France the national network is owned by Orange (formerly known as France Telecom) but competitors including SFR, Free and UK Telecom have equal access and line maintenance support from sub-contract engineers appointed by Orange on a regional basis.

With the local exchanges and lines maintained by the same people you can narrow your choices down to price, customer care and services without being at risk of a lesser service by not using Orange. For all practical purposes your only contact with your supplier is if there is a problem between your local exchange and your property and matters with your account.

Bundles and extras

All the main French companies have products that are bundled to appeal to the French market which has a different call pattern made by the average customer and certainly few if any calls to overseas non-geographic marketing numbers used by banks, insurance companies etc. You are likely to pay more for calls outside of an unlimited call package than if you used an expat specialist company.

Customer service

You may notice that there is less competition in France. This can make broadband services more expensive than the rates you are used to paying in your country, as in the UK, for example. However when something fails getting technical support in English can be a big advantage and speed up the process of getting live again. Fault solving can take time and whilst all companies offer a free number to call, once you are connected you could be made to pay a premium rate per minute for your call , as is the case for Orange customers. When you chose your telecom provider, look for a company that offers support in English and a free number for the whole of the call. This is an indication of a strong emphasis on customer care and support.

One other important advantage of using an expat specialist are the free additional services that are not available from the French companies. UK Telecom offers the all these:

• Good, honest and knowledgeable advice

• A free survey of broadband availability in your search area and property of interest before you


• Management of your line installation/set-up, including a low cost number for friends and family in the UK to call you

• You can pay invoices in £s or ‚¬s

• Free access to UK catch-up TV and other services for all broadband customers

• Free unlimited technical support


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When your telephone or broadband stop working

When your telephone or broadband stop working

Im sure youll agree with me that there is never a good time for your telephone or broadband to stop working. We have come a long way in recent years in how we use telephones and broadband services. Many phone calls are replaced with Skype calls, mobile apps and emails. Broadband has long ceased to be a simple tool to find information, with buying and selling a major activity.

High speeds and new software allow many of us to work from home or be based in two locations, and wifi allows mobiles to be used to make low-cost calls to most destinations. No wonder we feel cut off from the world when there is a fault with our service.

Get it fixed quickly

Our first instinct is to call our providers support line to get it fixed but we often forget that there could be problems within our homes causing the loss of service. If these are not investigated and an engineer is called out they may charge for their wasted time. Quite apart from that, several days without a service could be avoided , so lets look at what we can do to get calls live quickly.

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How to keep your French telephone number

How to keep your French telephone number


If you want to stay in control of your telecom and broadband services in France some new protection has just become available.

  French regulation

The French telecom regulator ARCEP is the body charged with protecting telephone and broadband customers interests. Similar to OFCOM in the UK,  it makes rules that offer customer protection from bad practice and, whilst it may not be as efficient as some would like, it does address many concerns.

Most recently it has decided to address the unauthorised taking over of a customers account without their agreement. In the UK this is known in the    industry as slamming, with severe penalties for companies that misbehave. In France the consumer protection is less forceful, but has just been given a    small boost.

In the past a simple sales call could result in the service being transferred. It merely sufficed if the customer simply asked for some information about the  service being offered, even when it was merely a casual question and the service was not wanted or requested.  The way this often happened was that the  caller was working in a call centre and was not a direct employee of the telecom company. All the caller was interested in, therefore, was in getting their commissions without any regard for the real needs of the customer. Call centre employees know that they would be assigned to a different contract shortly,  and therefore did not feel accountable if they left a slew of problems behind them.

New rules

October 2015 saw a new development to enhance consumer protection. While that risk still remains, the transferring of an account is not so easy if the customers telephone number is to be retained. Now the acquiring telecom company is required to provide a RIO number that can only be obtained by the account holder before the number can be transferred.


How to keep your French telephone number

If you have decided to move your account and wish to retain your telephone number you will have to contact 3179 from your French landline to prevent fraudulent representation. You will be connected to a voice server (automated) and have to answer a small number of questions. You will then receive your RIO number from your old supplier. You then have to give this to your new supplier. Here is a translation of the automated message you will receive:

€œThis is voice server for the RIO number service. The RIO associated to the number €œyour landline number€ is €œRIO number€. If you wish to change your supplier and keep your existing number, dont cancel your existing contract. Your new provider will deal with it.

To repeat your RIO, press 1. To receive your RIO by text message, press 2. To receive your RIO by email, press 3. To receive your RIO by post, press 4.€

You will have to pass this number on to your new telecom company so that they can ensure you keep your number.

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UKTelecom at The France Show 2016

UKTelecom at The France Show 2016

UKTelecom will be at The France Show being held in London Olympia from 29th to 31st January 2016, but this time with a bigger stand.

Last year we were almost overwhelmed by visitors asking us to test the broadband speed of properties they were considering buying and we are going to make the experience much better in 2016.  Using our web based tools and specialist knowledge we were able to give them good honest advice within minutes and also helping them understand the process that has to be followed to get on line quickly.

If you want to know if your line qualifies for FREE line rental, how to go ex-directory, or how to set up your French answerphone service or what free and paid for services are available on your line you could not come to a better place for the answers.

But there are lots of other reasons to see us on Stand P242.  We are giving all visitors the chance to enter our free draw for wine and champagne with prizes drawn every day at 4.00pm. In addition, all visitors to our stand interested in setting up a telephone line and broadband connection in France can collect our France Show voucher with Free line installation management worth 48.00‚¬.

New customers can be certain of being able to get free offers from us that no other company gives.  These include FREE access to UKTV , our free UK TV catch up service.  It can be used to access the Netflix UK catalogue of films as well, which is much more comprehensive that the English language titles available via a normal French broadband service.

For visitors already in France we will translate their French telephone number into a low cost UK number that they can pass to friends and family in the UK.  When this number is dialled instead of the normal French number they will make huge savings.  A one minute call will cost 3 pence per minute compared to the BT charge of 40 pence per minute.

Customers can call us on our FREE phone number from France no matter what the reason for the call is.  It is all part of a service that puts customers first!

We continue to be the only telecom company offering customers the choice between paying invoices in £s or ‚¬s, just another example of what makes us different!

Calls from France to UK non-geographic numbers

Calls from France to UK non-geographic numbers

When you call a non-geographic number in the UK from your French landline you have been charged for the cost to get your call from France onto the UK network and then the cost associated with the particular type of number you are calling.

Following the OFCOM regulators decision last July new access charges will be added to the cost of your call.  Charges for calls to Freephone numbers will remain the same.  That is, you will still be charged for the cost to get your call onto the UK network.

The actual service charge for calling the non-geographic numbers is set by the number range holding network and this must be clearly advertised by the company offering the service.

These charges will be applied by all telecom services companies in France.

UKTelecom has not increased its charges for any of these types of calls and does not receive any commissions from the number holders making these new access charges.

If you want to call a company in the UK, instead of dialling the non-geographic number, you can use its geographic correspondent. This will be a normal land line number starting by 01, 02, 03. If you already have a call package with free calls to land lines within the UK, calls to these numbers will not be charged.

You can easily use this link to search for an equivalent by either entering the company name or the non-geographic number.

If you need any help with this, dont hesitate to contact our office and one of our dedicated team members will assist you.

FREE UKDirect2U Service – Update

FREE UKDirect2U Service – Update

UKDirect2u FREE Service

We provide this free service to all phone subscribers in France giving big savings to their friends and family who wish to call them from the UK.  A standard call from a UK BT landline to a French number will cost 40 pence per minute.  However our customers choosing our free service which translates their French number into a low cost UK non-geographic number only pay 3 pence per minute.

We have not increased our cost of this service for the last 10 years and have no plans to do so.

Since July 2015 those in the UK using this and other non-geographic numbers have been charged an access charge, more commonly known as a connection charge, by their own telecom service provider.  It applies to 080, 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers.  UKTelecom gets no benefit from this new charge.

The charges follow negotiations with OFCOM, the UK regulator.  The UK telecom companies will have advised their customers of these changes, but some people using our UKDirect2U service have not recalled receiving any notification and some of our customers have queried the charge for calls made to them when in France.

The actual charge made is likely to be different depending on the UK telecom company concerned.  For example UKTelecom charges its business customers 6 pence access charge but we know of several UK companies charging domestic customers up to 12 pence to access the 084 number we have provided.

Our UKdirect2U service remains a highly attractive service, costing typically just 15 pence (including the highest access charge) for the first minute of a call for a UK user to call you.  This compares to a BT domestic customer using their standard service who will pay 52 pence to speak with you.

On the same basis a five minute call using the UKDirect2U service will cost only 27 pence compared to the same call made over BT which will cost £2.12 pence.

If you have not asked us to provide this free service just make a call now to our Freephone number and one of our team will have you service set up while you are on the phone.  There are no contracts for you to sign and your friends dont have to sign anything either.  They will just see the call itemised on their bill in the normal way.

Maximize your French gîte bookings with fast broadband

Maximize your French gîte bookings with fast broadband


One of the silent killers of gîte bookings today is the aggregate of all those potential guests that simply click away and skip a listing because the gîte doesnt offer fast broadband. With most homes having six or more internet connected devices, and many of them being brought along on holiday with their owners, holiday makers have quickly raised this service towards the top of their list of requirements.

The difficulty lies in the location of these gîtes. The vast majority are set in beautiful and picturesque -but rather remote- rural areas, away from the large metropolis. Consequently, the local telecom services may not be up to the same standards as those in urban areas.

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How to test your broadband speed before you buy your French property

How to test your broadband speed before you buy your French property

It is not always simple to check what internet service available in the exact property you are planning to buy. Its essential to make sure that the broadband haut-débit speeds promised on paper will actually be there once you move in and have your line connected. You dont want ugly surprises after you move in!

In theory you should be able to test your expected internet connection just with the address, but in practice sometimes houses located right next to each other have different broadband speeds depending on the age of the line, where they are routed and the original materials used when the line was first connected.

If you havent bought yet and are still looking at properties let us do a broadband speed test while you wait, interpret the results for you and give you honest and knowledgeable advice about what services would be best for that location as some rural properties cannot get standard broadband, which is something you would want to know before buying. All without any obligation!

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Living France June 2015 issue

Living France June 2015 issue

Ever wondered how to get English-language films
in your French home? Its easier than you think,
says Bob Elliott


Living France is the essential guide for anyone who dreams of a new life in France. Published 13 times a year, it is packed with detailed guides to the best locations to start your new life, inspirational stories from expats already living across the Channel and invaluable expert advice on everything from legal and financial issues to property and renovation. Available in selected WHSmith, Sainsburys, Tesco and independent newsagents, the magazine is also sold online on or you can take advantage of our subscription offers on

Living France

Visit our website for more great articles about France.

Click the links below to read the articles created by Uk Telecoms Commercial Director Bob Elliott. Bob regulary contributes to a number of publications, you can read more of his articles in our news section.

Living France June 2015 UK Telecoms expert – June 2015 (download PDF)