It may be hard to believe that in France – the world’s sixth richest country in terms of national net wealth – 20 percent of the population has slow or no internet access at all.
An April 2019 survey found that 6.8 million people in France didn’t have “minimum quality access to the internet”, which according to the French government is anything above 8 megabytes per second.
Even more alarming is the fact that 10 percent of French internet users have to put up with speeds of less than 3 megabytes a second, most of whom live in the countryside or small towns.
This huge ‘digital divide’ between urban and rural France has been a constant source of frustration for many countryside dwellers, especially those who depend on the internet to make a living.
- 'Slow, unreliable, expensive' – What the internet is really like in rural France
- Most of rural France still does not have high speed internet – and is unlikely to get it before 2029
Fortunately, this digital inequality could soon change for 4.7 million people in rural France now that the French government has announced it will give ten departments €242million in public funds to speed up the installation of improved internet networks.
The chosen departments are the following:
– Somme (€ 36.2 million initially, €56.4 million total)
– Côte d'Or (€36.2 million initially, €47 million total)
– Orne (€ 30 million),
– Dordogne (€44.97 initially, €60 million total)
– Yonne (€14.25 million initially, € 22.13 million total)
– Nièvre (€23.43 million)
– Hérault (€17.01 million)
– Mayenne (€17.34 million initially, € 19.33 million total)
– Tarn-et-Garonne (€ 19.13 million)
– Gard (€ 3.08 million).
Map: The Local
Previous government claims that they could supply all areas of rural France with high-speed internet by 2022 had been rejected by consumer groups, with a study suggesting l’Elysée would only be able to close the digital gap by 2029.
Now it seems that the French government’s promises of full digital coverage could come true sooner than expected with this latest cash injection.
According to a government press release, a further €140 million will be invested in other public internet projects in 2020.
The same document states that the French government succeeded in getting fibre optic internet to four million households in the last 12 months, taking the total number of homes with a high-speed connection to 21.6 million.