French connected: 4G network expands

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Dan MacGuill - [email protected]
French connected: 4G network expands
Leading French phone network Bouygues launches its 4G network. In theory, the move will offer 40 million people in France ultra-fast mobile internet. Photo: Marco Monetti

France on Tuesday entered a brave new world of mobile communication, when leading provider Bouygues launched its 4G network. In theory, the move will offer 40 million people in France mobile internet 10 times faster than 3G.


Anyone in France who knows the pain of trying to watch a stuttering, buffering Youtube video in low definition on their smartphone, or trying to catch up with the folks back home using Skype while on the go, might have cause for hope.

Leading French phone network and wireless provider Bouygues on Tuesday launched its 4G mobile internet network, promising ultra-high speed wireless for up to 40 million people all over France.

Competitors Orange and SFR have been rolling out their 4G networks bit by bit for months, but Bouygues’ long period of building up its system of antennas (which allow the high-speed connectivity), appears to have paid off.

No less than 63 percent of the French population now has access to Bouygues 4G mobile internet, as opposed to the 30 or 40 percent served before Tuesday, according to French daily Le Parisien.

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4G is a nickname for the fourth generation of mobile phone communications technology, whose main advantage to the average consumer is ultra-fast data processing.

With their 4G networks, Orange, SFR and now Bouygues, allow users to download music and files from the internet on to their smartphones up to 10 times faster than the current standard with 3G.

That increase in speed also enables high-definition video streaming and online gaming, as well as smoother teleconferencing for businesses.

Tuesday's expansion of 4G availability in France comes just a week after RATP, which runs the Paris transport network, announced plans to offer 3G and 4G mobile internet on the French capital's Metro system and regional RER trains.

So far only SFR and Bouyges Telecom have signed an agreement with RATP to participate in the roll out of 3G and 4G technology.

A recent survey by analysts at Deloitte, however, suggested the rail chiefs might be wasting their time.

The poll revealed that only 6 percent of French people have bought a 4G phone and 57 percent of respondents say they are not willing to sign up for a 4G contract, the main reason being because it is too expensive.

Here's a map of France, showing the newly-launched Bouygues 4G network in blue, and the more isolated pockets of coverage planned for the end of 2013 by SFR (in red), and Orange (in orange). 

Graphic: Le Parisien

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