Fiber to absent subscribers, insufficient 4G and tired of ADSL? What if the solution to getting a decent connection didn’t come from the sky? With the arrival of Starlink on the market, offers offering an Internet connection via satellite are increasingly highlighted. 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 locality is nevertheless enormous. Especially when it comes to broadband.
Inevitably, urban areas are largely favored due to a higher population density. In the countryside and areas with a low population density, white areas are commonplace with almost no network infrastructure, even with regard to the mobile network. We can also think of people with a nomadic habitat, on the road, as on the sea, with an impossibility of connecting to a land or even mobile network effectively.
What if the solution came from space with satellite Internet? In recent years, a good number of players have blossomed, promising high-speed Internet access from anywhere thanks to this technology, with Elon Musk’s famous Starlink in mind. We have taken stock of the offers available in France.
How does the satellite connection work?
On the user side, everything works via a dish located on the roof of the building to be connected, coupled with a modem, which transmits data packets to the satellites. This is the same configuration as for satellite TV reception, we are thinking in particular of players in France such as Fransat.
Whether for Internet or television, the data packets will make four round trips of 36,000 km for a total of 144,000 km, a distance equivalent to half of an Earth-Moon journey.
Before being a technology seeking 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 areas and theoretically impossible 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 relay 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 deployment campaigns, traditional ISPs and telephone operators cannot serve an entire territory, mainly for cost and profitability reasons.
Also, for questions of infrastructure and strategic positioning, 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 fiber, 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?
Let it be said, the satellite Internet market in France is somewhat… satellite-based (do you have it?). Do not expect subscriptions offered by the major telecom players in France such as SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom or Orange, even if the latter already has a corresponding offer via its subsidiary NordNet and intends to develop in this area in the future. future as seen above. In the meantime, only 4 operators exist 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 fairly unique turnkey solution and promises performance and versatility without real competition. Subscription could not be simpler 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 via the constellation of SpaceX satellites, which allows, among other things, to benefit from theoretically optimal reception wherever you are in the world, even if certain countries are not yet supported. Starlink is clearly the most advanced solution on the market with performance comparable to that offered by 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 telephone), all via a satellite connection. 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 offered is less than that of the American competitor and above all much more unstable. Nevertheless, it is a complete offer comparable to that of a more traditional fiber/ADSL operator and the only one offering 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. The brand is however available in many European countries, including France. SkyDSL uses Eutelsat’s fleet of satellites to offer its services, including the famous KA-SAT offering much better performance than the old generation of satellites intended for sending data.
Unlike Nordnet, we are not dealing with an operator offering more comprehensive services that are very popular in France (Internet, TV, Telephony). The offers 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, itself owned by Avanti Communications Group, a British company specializing in satellite network solutions. Avanti using its Hylas 2 satellite, which only covers 35% of French territory, only a few departments (50, notably those in the East and North), Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland can benefit from Numerisat’s offers.
Depending on your geographical location, the antenna that will be provided to you will therefore be more or less large (from 80 to 98 cm). A size change necessary to guarantee the promised connection speed. If we compare the offers of OuiSat to other operators, they are much less interesting, the fault of the high prices and above all the limitations of data volume according to its package.
|Subscription price||50€/month||Vital: €39.90/month
M: €26.90/month (€14.90 the first month)
L: €29.90/month for 2 years 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)
|S: 12 Mbps
L: 24 Mbps
M: 50 Mbps
|30 or 50 Mbps|
|Material price||450€||€299 on purchase (free if eligible for state aid)
|Complete pack (antenna + Modem): €4.90/month rental or €9.90/month rental-purchase)||OuiSat kit: €285 (can be subsidized)|
|TV service||No||Yes (with Ultra subscription only)||TNT optional with the TV extension kit: €49.90 upon purchase||No|
|Mobile telephony||No||Yes (with the Ultra offer)||No||No|
|Commitment ?||No (30 day trial)||Only on Ideal and Ultra subscriptions (12 months)||No||No|
So, Satellite Internet, do we recommend?
There is no doubt that satellite network technologies have a lot of room for development and that this type of solution could eventually compete seriously with more traditional connections, Starlink having largely paved the way. However, you should be aware that for the moment, this type of offer is above all intended for people whose locality does not allow them to obtain an optimal experience via terrestrial infrastructures (Fiber, ADSL, 4G or 5G mobile network). We are thinking in particular of people residing in white areas or in mobile homes (motorhomes, boats, etc.).
You also have to realize that the French market is still difficult to conquer. The network infrastructures in France are already well implemented with a much more optimized global coverage than in our European neighbors for example, where the white areas are much more numerous. In comparison, the American market is much more open to this type of solution, due to the topography and the less accessible network offer.
In case you are interested, still do not expect to get an optimal experience in all circumstances. Despite technological advances, a satellite network is by nature unstable with high latency: so don’t expect to be able to launch a cloud gaming game in excellent conditions in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for the moment.
We must also count on prices that are still a little high compared to more conventional offers, especially with regard to operators offering limited subscriptions. Installation and investment in specific hardware can also be a drag for many.
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