Fiber to absent subscribers, insufficient 4G and tired of ADSL? What if the solution to get a decent connection doesn’t come from heaven? With the arrival of Starlink on the market, more and more offers that offer internet connection via satellite stand out. Let’s take a look at the satellite internet subscriptions available in France.
Let’s take a simple observation: even if 92.5% of French households theoretically have access to an Internet connection, the disparity between populations according to their location is enormous. Especially when it comes to broadband.
Inevitably, urban areas are greatly favored due to higher population density. In the countryside and areas with low population density, white areas with hardly any network infrastructure are common, even with regard to the mobile network. We can also think of people with a nomadic habitat, on the road, as in the sea, with an impossibility to connect to a terrestrial or even mobile network effectively.
What if the solution came from space with satellite internet? In recent years, a good number of players have flourished promising high-speed Internet access from anywhere thanks to this technology, thinking of Elon Musk’s famous Starlink. We have taken stock of the offers available in France.
How does the satellite connection work?
On the user side, everything works through a satellite dish located on the roof of the building to be connected, coupled to a modem, which transmits data packets to the satellites. This is the same setup as for satellite TV reception, we are thinking in particular of players in France like Fransat.
Whether by internet or television, the data packages will make 4 round trips of 36,000 km for a total of 144,000 km, a distance equivalent to half an Earth-Moon trip.
Before being a technology that seeks to replace conventional connections, the satellite network responds to a fundamental problem: limiting the digital divide and promoting the exchange of information, even in the most remote and theoretically impossible areas to connect to the network.
On a national scale, for conventional Internet access providers, the installation of network equipment is profitable in proportion to the number of potential subscribers. Installing repeater antennas or fiber optic cables in sparsely populated areas is of little interest (for the moment) for operators.
And the historical operators in all this?
Despite rollout campaigns, traditional ISPs and telephone operators cannot serve an entire territory, mainly for cost and profitability reasons.
Likewise, for reasons of infrastructure and strategic positioning, the operators maintain complementary relationships with satellite Internet providers. This is particularly the case between Orange and Eutelsat. The incumbent operator has also already announced that it wants to offer its own satellite internet subscriptions in the future, in addition to fibre, 4G and 5G. It is also a way for the operator to maintain national sovereignty in a highly strategic market.
The satellite Internet market, an unstoppable expansion. In 2021, the satellite internet market was estimated at $3.985 million. By 2030, it is expected to rise to $17,431 million.
What offers are available in France?
It must be said, the satellite internet market in France is somewhat… satellite based (have you got it?). Do not expect subscriptions offered by the main telecom players in France, such as SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom or Orange, even if the latter already has a corresponding offer through its subsidiary NordNet and intends to develop in this area in the future how it looks above. Meanwhile, there are only 4 operators in France.
Starlink has been operating in France since May 2021 and has become the most popular solution on the market for a while. It must be said that the system managed by the American SpaceX (owned by Elon Musk) offers a quite unique turnkey solution and promises performance and versatility without real competition. The subscription could not be easier with a single price (50 euros per month) all with a kit to install at home (450 euros).
Unlike other solutions, Starlink uses its own transmission technology provided through the SpaceX satellite constellation, which allows, among other things, to benefit from theoretically optimal reception anywhere in the world, even if some countries are not yet supported. . Starlink is clearly the most advanced solution on the market with performance comparable to that of fiber connections and proves to be an excellent alternative to 4G/5G connections, especially in white areas.
Nordnet is a brand belonging to the Orange group since 1998 and offers network solutions for individuals and professionals, including an offer called Neosat with the Triple/Quadruple Play package (Internet, TV, fixed and mobile telephony), all through a connection via satelite. The network transmission technology offered by Nordnet goes through KA-SAT, a European EutelSat satellite launched in 2010 and covering a large part of the old continent.
A single satellite, therefore, unlike what Starlink offers and therefore the connection it offers is less than that of the American competitor and above all much more unstable. However, it is a complete offer comparable to that of a more traditional fiber/ADSL operator and the only one that offers the contribution of a TNT TV package and a fixed telephone line.
SkyDSL is a telecommunications service of German origin offered by the firm SkyDSL Global GmbH based in Berlin. However, the brand is available in many European countries, including France. SkyDSL uses Eutelsat’s fleet of satellites to offer its services, including the famous KA-SAT which offers much better performance than the previous generation of data-sending satellites.
Unlike Nordnet, we are not dealing with an operator that offers more complete and very popular services in France (Internet, TV, Telephony). The deals offered by SkyDSL are content to offer a simple Internet connection with download speeds of up to 50 Mb/s.
OuiSat is a brand of the operator Numérsat, owned by Avanti Communications Group, a British company specializing in satellite network solutions. Avanti using its Hylas 2 satellite, which covers only 35% of the French territory, only some departments (50, in particular those in the east and north), Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, can benefit from Numerisat offers.
Depending on your geographical location, the antenna provided to you will therefore be more or less large (from 80 to 98 cm). A necessary size change to guarantee the promised connection speed. If we compare OuiSat’s offers with those of other operators, they are much less interesting, due to the high prices and, above all, the data volume limitations depending on their package.
|star link||nord net||SkyDSL||OuiSat|
|subscription price||€50/month||Vital: €39.90/month
M: €26.90/month (€14.90 the first month)
L: €29.90/month for 2 years and then €39.90/month
(The number corresponds to the maximum number of GB allowed)
|Advertised Download Speed||Between 100 and 200 Mb/s||Vital: up to 50 Mb/s (75 GB prioritized)
Ideal: up to 75 Mb/s (100 GB prioritized)
Ultra: (up to 100 Mb/s (150 GB prioritized)
L : 24Mb/s
|30 or 50 Mbit/s|
|materials price||€450||€299 on purchase (free if eligible for state aid)
|Complete pack (antenna + modem): €4.90/month rent or €9.90/month rent-purchase)||OuiSat Kit: €285 (can be subsidized)|
|television service||No||Yes (only with Ultra subscription)||Optional TNT with the TV extension kit: €49.90 upon purchase||No|
|Cell phone||No||Yes (with Ultra offer)||No||No|
|Commitment ?||No (30 day trial)||Only on Ideal and Ultra subscriptions (12 months)||No||No|
So, Internet by Satellite, do we recommend it?
There is no doubt that satellite networking technologies have a lot of room for development and that this type of solution could eventually seriously compete with more traditional connections, with Starlink having largely paved the way. However, you should know that, for the moment, these types of offers are aimed above all at people whose location does not allow them to obtain an optimal experience through terrestrial infrastructures (Fiber, ADSL, 4G or 5G mobile network). We are thinking in particular of people who live in white areas or in mobile homes (motorhomes, boats, etc.).
You also have to realize that the French market remains difficult to conquer. Network infrastructures in France are already well implemented with much more optimized global coverage than in our European neighbors, for example, where white areas are much more numerous. By comparison, the US market is much more open to these types of solutions, due to the topography and less accessible network offerings.
In case you’re interested, don’t expect to get an optimal experience in all circumstances just yet. Despite technological advances, a satellite network is by nature unstable with high latency: so don’t expect to be able to launch a pristine cloud gaming game in the middle of the Pacific Ocean just yet.
We also have to reckon with prices that are still a bit high compared to more conventional offerings, especially when it comes to operators offering limited subscriptions. The installation and investment in specific hardware can also be a drag for many.
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