Internet in France has been available to the general public since 1994, but widespread Internet use did not take off until the mid-2000s. As of 31 December 2014, France had 26 million Internet broadband and high-speed connections on fixed networks. In 2014, 80.7% of French households (22.5 million households) had Internet access (47 million users in January 2015, according to Médiamétrie[1]), while 19.3% did not (5.4 million households, out of a total of 27.8 million households).[2]

In 2014, 82% of French people aged 12 and over had Internet access at home (even though only 77% used it), and 64% of French people aged 12 years and older connected daily to the Internet from home. Considering all connections locations (not only the home), 83% of French people were Internet users.[3]

In metropolitan France, intense competition between Internet service providers has led to the introduction of moderately-priced high speed ADSL up to 28 Mbit/s (ATM), VDSL2 up to 100 Mbit/s, and FTTX up to 1 Gbit/s from €26 per month.[4] They often include other services such as unlimited free VoIP telephone communications to land lines, and digital television. Dial-up internet access is considered outdated.

Since around 2003, quotas have been seen as outdated and consequently all the fixed broadband internet offers in France are unmetered.


Further information: CYCLADES § Legacy, International Networking Working Group, and History of the Internet

FNET, the French branch of EUnet, converted from UUCP to TCP/IP in 1986.[5]

During the summer of 1988, the INRIA connected the Sophia Antipolis NSFNet network to Princeton by a satellite link leased to France Telecom and MCI. The link became operational on 8 August 1988, and allowed INRIA researchers to access the US network and allowed NASA researchers access to an astronomical database based in Strasbourg. This was the first international connection to NSFNET and the first time that French networks were connected directly to a network using TCP/IP, the Internet protocol. Internet access was limited to research and education for some years.[5][6][7]

In 1992, almost simultaneously, French Data Network and Altern (via the Minitel service 3616 ALTERN) enabled the general public to connect to the Internet network. World Wide Web access did not yet exist at the time and the services offered were email, the news of the Usenet network, access to many software archives documentation, and access to Internet network machines.

RENATER was the first network for research and higher education in France to use the Internet protocol suite in 1993. Initially the Internet was only available to a small number of users in a few companies and universities. The general public began to have access to Internet starting from 1994, and was democratized in the early 2000s with the emergence of ADSL.[5][8]

The first real public service provider was WorldNet which opened in February 1994 at the Computer Associates Expo. FranceNet, founded by Rafi Haladjian, launched its service in June 1994. These were followed by order Calvacom, Internet Way and Imaginet.

AOL was a great success between 1996 and 2000 through its widely distributed, free CDs, and with attractive prices for low speeds.


On 3 December 2008, France had 16.3 million broadband connections, of which 94% are ADSL subscribers.[9] This makes France the second largest ADSL market in Europe. At the end of 2005, 30% of those DSL lines were unbundled, and 37% of those unbundled lines were totally unbundled without any direct invoicing of the historical operator and a greater progression rate than partial unbundling.[10] At the end of September 2005, more than 95% of the population can have a DSL connection, albeit some of them only 512/128.

"Zones Blanches" in France

An estimated 500,000 households in rural areas are unable to be reached for ADSL connection, and must access Internet through other means, such Satellite Internet.

To reduce the digital divide, many departments have chosen either to subsidize [11] Internet access via satellite, or to deploy radio networks, such as the WiMax. The French state has also chosen to subsidize some private operators to enable them to deploy fiber optics throughout the national territory.

Domain Names in France

The AFNIC is responsible for domain names in France, including .fr (France and the island of Réunion) and .pm (for Saint Pierre and Miquelon).

Other domain names exist, such as .gf for Guyana, .nc for New Caledonia, .mq for Martinique, .yt for Mayotte, .pf for French Polynesia, .gp for Guadeloupe, .tf for French Southern and Antarctic Lands or .eu for the European Union.

ADSL market

Consumer access to digital networks started in France earlier than in other countries with the Minitel, a pre-World Wide Web online service invented by the PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones). In May 1998, the number of French households connected to the Internet was an estimated 570,000 (or 2.4% of French households), compared to 270,000 in May 1997 and 100,000 in May 1996.[12]

In June 2009 France occupied the third place in the number of households in European connected to Internet, behind Germany and the United Kingdom.

France seeks to reach universal broadband coverage by 2017.[13]

ADSL Market Actors

Of 25 million subscribers, the major Internet service providers (ISPs) in France are:[14]

The legal context in France allows associations to form themselves into non-profit ISP. There are well over a dozen such ISPs associations in France, the main one being the French Data Network and a federation of associative internet providers, the Federation FDN.

ADSL offers

The market is oriented towards stopping the price war, and offering more services at a price going from €20 to €38:

Those triple play offers were initiated by Free with the Freebox modem, and are expanding to all major players, driving the French market.[15]

Bouygues Telecom lowered the first price of standard triple-play offers to €20 in February 2015.[16] Those prices are being attained with complete unbundling, saving the monthly €15 for the POTS subscription while retaining the triple play services. Those offers of naked DSL are also available in non-unbundled areas, and can lead to the economy of the traditional telephone subscription.[17][18]

ADSL technology

After selling the first ADSL2+ offers in Europe, providing a speed of 18 Mbit/s down and 1 Mbit/s up in 2004, French operators continue to offer new services, driven by the competition. It is possible to use videotelephony, video on demand, Reach Extended ADSL for 8 km lines soon. Experiments are not any more the Iliad/Free trademark: they recently demonstrated an aggregated 174 Mbit/s link,[19] while Telecom Italia innovates on the service with a free hotline and Orange is pushing VDSL.

In December 2005, Free enabled a TV multicasting service on the customer's local network, an open solution based on RTSP.[20] This completes the media center capability of the freebox, also using the VideoLAN project.[21] They launched on April 2006 a new Freebox divided in two devices with DVB-T and HDTV capabilities and a Mimo WiFi network.[22]

Quadruple play, triple play with mobile communications, is available.

Around 2007, fixed broadband operators experimented dual mode mobile offers, such as Neuf Cegetel selling for €200 and €1 along with its Twin plan,[23] a GSM/WiFi hybrid telephone after the experimental beautifulphone, by the means of a QTek 8300 and Wanadoo selling Unik, a Motorola, Nokia or Samsung handset for €100.[24] These offers have not been widely taken up by consumers and ceased operating a few years later.[25]

Other Technologies

France has seen the development of other types of networks applications, such as Sigfox's "ultra narrow band" radio network, covering of up to 80% of the country in 2012.[26] Bosch, and other companies such as Ericsson and Cisco Systems have created similar connective applications, with Bosch having sold over 50 thousand networked heating systems in the country as of 2015. Sigfox and French companies, SYSMECA and Airbus, are partnering to embark on the “MUSTANG Project”, a drive to offer both earth- and satellite-based Machine to Machine communication worldwide. They are partly publicly funded, with the French Future Investments Programme, through the Agence Nationale de la Recherche.[27][28][29]

Anti-piracy law

Main article: HADOPI law

In May 2009, a bill was approved by the French National Assembly to prevent internet piracy. After being caught at downloading illegal files three times, a user's connection might be suspended. It only targets open peer-to-peer file sharing networks.[30][31]

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2016-08-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-25. Retrieved 2016-08-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ p. 77
  4. ^ Bouygues Telecom: guide des tarifs
  5. ^ a b c "The path to digital literacy and network culture in France (1980s to 1990s)". The Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories. Taylor & Francis. 2017. pp. 84–89. ISBN 978-1317607656.
  6. ^ [Et Dieu crea l'Internet, Christian Huitema, ISBN 2-212-08855-8, 1995, page 10]
  7. ^ Andrianarisoa, Menjanirina. "A brief history of the internet".
  8. ^ Hardy, Daniel; Malleus, Guy (2002). Networks: Internet, Telephony, Multimedia: Convergences and Complementarities. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 505. ISBN 978-3-540-00559-9.
  9. ^ "3ème trimestre 2008 - Résultats provisoires". L'Observatoire de l’Internet haut débit (in French). Arcep. 2008-12-08.
  10. ^ "Le tableau de bord du 30 juin 2006". Observatoire dégroupage et bitstream (in French). ARCEP. 2006-08-30.
  11. ^ a map of departments that provide a grant to the satellite Internet access .
  12. ^ Les Echos style="background:#F99;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center;" class="table-no"| 17663 June 10 1998 page 18[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Pépin, Guénaël. "Bataille des opérateurs français sur la fibre optique".
  14. ^ Various sources - Summary PC INpact -france-19-million-subscribers-internet.htm November 2009 and March 2010, official statements Free, Vivendi to SFR / Neuf Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine, [http : Orange //]
  15. ^ Reinhardt, Andy (2005-12-05). "The Telecom Exploits Of Iliad". European business. BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  16. ^ Bouygues Telecom mise sur son offre triple-play à 19,99 euros pour casser les prix du marché on RTL
  17. ^ "Telephone line rental is now included in the Freebox subscription in non-unbundled areas" (PDF) (Press release). iliad. 2006-08-22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2006-08-23.
  18. ^ "the end of traditional telephone subscriptions in France" (Press release). Neuf Cegetel. 2006-08-17. Archived from the original on 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2006-08-23.
  19. ^ "Free est parvenu à délivrer grâce aux technologies DSL un débit maximum de 174 Mbit/s en réception et 18 Mbit/s en émission" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2005-11-25. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  20. ^ "Freebox TV is now multi-device enabled!" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2005-12-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  21. ^ "Freebox subscribers now have their own home media center" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2005-06-22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-23. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  22. ^ "New HD Freebox Released" (PDF) (Press release). Iliad. 2006-04-19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  23. ^ "Neuf Cegetel, leading the way in fixed/mobile convergence, is launching TWIN, the first GSM/WiFi hybrid telephone on the consumer market" (Press release). Neuf Cegetel. 2006-05-30. Archived from the original on 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  24. ^ "France Telecom Launches the New Orange: a Single Brand for Internet, TV and Mobile, a Leading Brand In Opening Up Digital Services" (Press release). France Telecom. 2006-05-31. Retrieved 2006-08-04.
  25. ^ Free Assistance justifie la disparition de Freephonie au profit de Free Wifi Secure on Univers Freebox
  26. ^ Boogar, Liam. "Sigfox's IoT Network already covers 80% of France". RudeBaguette. RudeBaguette. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  27. ^ Bridges, Trista. "[Interview] Guy Maugis, President of Bosch France "In the connectivity business, there is a new '3S': sensors, software, and services"". RudeBaguette. RudeBaguette. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  28. ^ Lawson, Stephen. "IoT network will look to the skies for better coverage". PCWorld. PCWorld. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  29. ^ Angel, Marina. "Airbus embarque Sigfox et Sysmeca dans son projet Mustang". L'usine Digitale. L'usine Digitale. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  30. ^ Pfanner, Eric (2009-05-13). "France Approves Crackdown on Internet Piracy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  31. ^ "French net piracy bill signed off". BBC News. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2010-05-05.