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.