One in five French households 'still lacking very high-speed internet'

The Local France
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One in five French households 'still lacking very high-speed internet'
A worker connects fiber optics cables in a junction box of an apartment building in Paris. (Photo by BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP)

One in five French households still does not have access to reliable, very high-speed internet, according to a new study by a consumer rights group, who is calling for a legal right to super-fast internet.


According to a recent study by French consumers group, UFC- Que Choisir, nearly one in five French households lacks "real" very high-speed internet connection, and those most affected tend to be in rural areas.

In total, 11.8 million French consumers cannot actually access very high speed internet (speeds greater than 30 megabits per second), according to the report.

As such, UFC-Que Choisir is pushing for the creation of an "enforceable right" to quality internet access in France.

Even though the French government began a campaign to install high-speed internet connections across the country, including expanding fibre optics to rural areas, the official figures are misleading, according to UFC-Que Choisir.

The government's plan was first introduced in 2013, and over the course of 10 years, about €36 billion have been invested in building up access to high-speed internet connection throughout France.


“The official figures show that the objective has been achieved”, the UFC-Que Choisir said in its study. However, about 17.2 percent of households access their very high-speed internet using "second-rate technologies", such as fixed 4G, THD radio and satellite.

“These are second-rate technologies compared to offers using traditional wired networks, such as fibre optics", UFC-Que Choisir explained in their study.

In terms of who is typically affected, “rural départements are most often the main victims of the digital divide”.

READ MORE: Dodgy internet but great neighbours: What it's really like living in small-town France


The map below, created by UFC-Que Choisir, shows the percentage of inhabitants per département who do not have access to fibre-based "very high-speed internet" (30 megabits per second).

The sections in dark red show that at least 20 percent of the population in that département does not have access to "very high-speed internet".

Screenshot taken by The Local, map included in study by UFC-Que Choisir, using Insee data.

According to France's Telecomes Authority, Arcep, at the end of 2022 at least 18.1 million households - a little over a quarter of the population - were connected to the internet via fibre optics. Over 92 percent of the French population, as of 2022, had access to the internet in general, according to an Insee study.

The French government does hope to expand this further, with the goal of spreading fibre across France by 2025, and requiring that companies, such as Orange, the Internet operator for several million French people, stop providing copper-based internet transmissions, known to be slower than fibre, by 2030. 

As for the consumer rights group, the study concluded with a push for "an enforceable right" to quality internet access, "based both on creating a legal minimum for flow rates (speeds) and on the compensation consumers ought to benefit from if these flow rates are not reached".


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