New Technology Lands on La Lune

La Lune - Shot in the dark

Life on La Lune passed its 9th  birthday last week on 14th February. A few things have changed since then, not least our ability to access the internet. When I published my first post (the present one is the 628th), we were still using a dial-up connection. After all this time, the electronic tune the modem played each time we switched it on is engraved on my memory.

When we moved here in 1997, the internet was in its infancy. We bought plane tickets and booked hotels by telephone. We transmitted documents to clients using a fax machine. Remember those? The fact that we didn’t have ADSL (broadband) wasn’t a big problem at that point. Fast forward a few years, and it started to become one.

The internet takes off – but we don’t

Websites became more elaborate and slower to load. Downloading a large document or a computer programme took hours with our dial-up connection. You could polish the furniture, do the ironing and then vacuum the whole house while you waited. We had a clean house, but that was the only plus side.

We still had no ADSL because we are at the end of the phone line a long way from the exchange. In fact, considering that the line loops between the branches and is regularly pulled down by passing tractors, it was amazing that any data was transmitted at all. For a long time, until France Telecom finally came out and fixed it, the line didn’t work when it rained.

Beam me up, or down

Along came satellite technology: the only way we could get faster internet speeds. We bit the bullet and paid several hundred euros for all the kit: satellite dish, cables, modem, router, etc. This worked better for a while, until the traffic to and from the satellite became too dense and the speeds dropped.

The solution: change satellite, but this also involved buying completely new kit, despite the fact that it was the same company that supplied it. We bit the bullet again and shelled out the euros.

Temporary success. The connection to the new satellite was much faster. The downside was that we had a download quota and if we exceeded it we had to pay extra on top of the 55€ per month we paid just for the internet connection. And, of course, as the internet became ever more sophisticated, our usage increased with it. The telephone was not included and that was 30€ per month via the fixed line.

Flirting with fibre-optics

The French government announced its intention to hook up everyone in the country to a very high-speed internet connection by 2022, with broadband speeds of at least 30 Mbps. We would grit our teeth when friends flaunted their village’s fibre optic connection with eye-watering download speeds, and all for only 38€ per month, phone included. We joked that we would be the last ones to be connected at 11.59 p.m. on 31st December 2021. But the ‘Plan France Très Haut Débit 2013-2022’ shows signs of creaking at the seams, owing to funding shortfalls and a lack of a coherent approach to implementation.

House winter 2017
Catching up with everyone else in the 21st century

However, I’m delighted to announce that we have got at least part of the way there. Last year, a fibre-optic hub was installed a couple of kilometres away à vol d’oiseau (as the crow flies). For the first time, we were eligible to join the club. We are now the proud owners (well, renters) of a Livebox, which does the telephone as well. It doesn’t achieve the speeds the government aspires to. But we pay a lot less for it.

In a country the size of France, which has some very sparsely-populated areas, the technical and financial challenges of upgrading everyone to high-speed internet are considerable. If you’re thinking of moving to a rural area in France, check the bandwidth and how it’s delivered. For a more detailed description of the current situation, click here.

What have your experiences been with the internet in France?

You might also like:

The Ups and Downs of Life in La France Profonde

17 Years in France: What’s Changed Since 1997?

Copyright © 2019 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. I’m grateful for Fibre Optic as MrFD’s new job (training finishes in March. Earning can begin!!) is in the cadre of planning where FO cables will go. So hopefully there’ll be work until 2022 at least!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure Mr FD will have work well beyond 2022. These roll-outs always take longer than planned. I can’t see them getting fibre optics up to us in that time. Good luck to Mr FD in his new job. 🙂


  2. Compared to your previous internet access, or lack of it, I am sure you will love your Livebox.
    Ours, on the other hand, has nearly been thrown through salon window a couple of times by Trevor, who tends still to expect speeds similar to the UK.
    He eben has a mew app om his phone that can tell him, at a glance, how crap out signal is in raim. Wind,

    Liked by 1 person

    • We don’t have phones sophisticated enough to tell us about the signal, being the last people on the planet without smartphones, although there is a website where you can check it. I envy people in cities who have super-fast fibre-optics, but what we don’t know we can’t miss, I suppose.


  3. Woohooo – a livebox – what a fabulous birthday present!!! Well done, you must be so pleased!! I remember that dial-up tune only too well!! And I remember when ADSL came to our village. I resisted it for as long as I could, having watched the neighbour across the road struggle with it no end. When I finally bit the bullet it was great, and I wouldn’t want to go back to the “good old days” for anything!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we’re very pleased to have it at last, although it is actually a little slower than the old satellite system. However, the difference between 85 euros/month (internet plus phone) and 38 euros/month (ditto) is certainly worth having! I don’t know how we managed with the old modem. It wouldn’t be possible now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m in a village so not so much a problem with internet. What we have is a dodgy main telephone line – the one that comes into the village. SO we suffer quick intermittent power cuts without warning which when I’m writing is a source of frustration. EDF appear not to want to do anything about it feeling it’s not yet inconvenient!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Generally, villages are reasonably well served. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s the further-flung hamlets and isolated farmhouses that suffer from a poor internet connection. I hope your village gets its problems sorted out soon. It’s so frustrating when you are trying to get things done and they take so much longer than they need to.


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