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Most of rural France still does not have high speed internet – and is unlikely to get it before 2029

A new survey has revealed the gaping and persistent inequality across France when it comes to access to high speed internet, and warns that the government will likely take until 2029 to sort out the problem, instead of 2022 as it promised.

Most of rural France still does not have high speed internet - and is unlikely to get it before 2029
The 'digitial divide' between rural and urban France is enormous. Photo: AFP

You might think two decades into the 21st century that access to the internet was a fundamental right in a developed rich country, but the survey showed that 6.8 million people in France do not have “minimum quality access to the internet.”

The study by consumer group UFC Que Choisir said that nearly 10 per cent of the population, almost all of them in the countryside or in small towns and villages, has to put up with internet access speeds of less than three megabytes a second.

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6.8 million people in France do not have 'minimum quality access to the internet.' Photo: AFP

It used the government’s own definition of “good high speed” internet access as meaning between eight megabytes a second and 30 megabytes a second.

Internet access of this quality was not available to nearly 20 percent of the population, most of them in rural areas, the consumer group said, noting that it made its calculations using information drawn from government figures.

UFC Que Choisir said that this “digital divide” between big towns and the countryside was all the more problematic as the government is making more and more of its services available only through the internet.

The group carried out a similar study in 2017 and warned even back then that the government was far too optimistic about reaching its target of making high-speed internet available to all households, even in the most isolated parts of the country, by 2022.

Now it says it is convinced it will not reach that target, despite government promises to pour 100 million euros into the problem under a project named “France Très Haut Débit” (Very High Speed France).

It believes under current plans, it will be 2029 before all areas have satisfactory internet access.

UFC Que Choisir said it has asked the state Agence du numérique (Digital Agency) to give its latest estimate for rolling out high speed access across France, but got fobbed off with a vague reply that the agency would publish data when it had it.

You can check the available internet speeds in your area on the France Très Haut Débit website.

Member comments

  1. Our speed has dropped by 1mps in the last three months but trying to get Orange to admit it, is like pissing in the wind.

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TECHNOLOGY

French watchdog fines Google and Amazon subsidiary €135m for unauthorised cookies

France's CNIL data privacy watchdog said on Thursday it had fined two Google units a total of €100 million and an Amazon subsidiary €35 million over advertising cookies.

French watchdog fines Google and Amazon subsidiary €135m for unauthorised cookies
Photo: AFP

The regulator said the fines were “for having placed advertising cookies on the computers of users … without obtaining prior consent and without providing adequate information.”

A cookie is a small piece of data stored on a user's computer browser that allows websites to identify users and remember their previous activity.

The CNIL said when a user visited the website google.fr, several cookies used for advertising purposes were automatically placed on his or her computer, without any action required on the user's part.

It said a similar thing happened when visiting one page on the amazon.fr website.

CNIL said this type of cookie “can only be placed after the user has expressed his or her consent” and thus violated regulations on receiving prior consent.

It faulted Google for providing insufficient privacy information for users as it did not let them know about the cookies which had been placed and that the procedure to block them still left one operational.

CNIL also said Amazon had not provided clear or complete information about the cookies it placed on computers of users until a redesign in September 2020.

Google also stopped placing cookies on the computers of users without consent in September, CNIL said, but added it still does not provide a sufficient explanation for their use.

The regulator said “no matter what path the users used to visit the website, they were either insufficiently informed or never informed of the fact that cookies were placed on their computer.”

The €35 million fine is on the Amazon Europe Core subsidiary.

CNIL imposed fines of €60 million on Google LLC and €40 million on Google Ireland Limited.

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