17 July 2011

Internet access

Local government here in the Loire Valley is not only concerned with tractors, of course. Here's another recent article from the local newspaper:

Officials work to implement ultra high-speed
networking across the Loir-et-Cher


No matter what part of the Loir-et-Cher département they live in, residents can now benefit from high-speed internet service. But the future is all about "ultra high-speed" internet, which will allow for instantaneous transmission of large files and documents, including high-definition images, over both the cell (mobile) and land-line phone networks.

Nationally, government plans call for providing ultra high-speed internet access to 70% of the French population by 2020 and 100% by 2025. The French National Assembly has passed a bill requiring local and regional authorities to begin developing plans for improvements in the digital infrastructure.

In the Loir-et-Cher, the department’s general council has taken up the cause, working to involve all interested parties (service providers; government entities; mayoral associations; trade and professional associations)... The first ultra high-speed internet plan for the Loir-et-Cher is scheduled to be finalized later this month. “We want to be able to apply for grants and funding this fall, for the 2012 budget,” says the departmental council’s vice-chairman for computing and telecommunications.

The plan will include an inventory of the department’s existing ultra high-speed networks and current service providers’ plans and operations. “We will also define our priorities, for example: schools and medical facilities, commercial and business parks. Then we’ll be able to develop a plan for future development of ultra high-speed networks,” said the official.

Walt and I got broadband internet at our house outside Saint-Aignan in October 2003, and we were very happy about that. When we arrived in June of that year and got moved in, we figured we'd have to deal with dial-up networking for the foreseeable future. But the day we went to get our phone service set up, we were informed that DSL (ADSL in French) would be available in our area in a few months, so we signed up immediately.

Our connection is now rated at just 2 mbps, because we are right at the edge of the service area. A lot of people all around France get internet, phone, and even TV over their DSL line (instead of cable or satellite). Our line doesn't have sufficient capacity and speed for TV, but it's great for internet. The speed has gone from 500 bps to 2000 bps over the past 7 years, and the price has gone down from 30 euros a month to the current 21 euros.

I don't know if I really believe that there are no addresses in the département that can't get DSL service. I happen to know people who live about 10 miles south of us, in the neighboring Indre-et-Loire department (centered on the city of Tours), who can't get DSL. Maybe the Loir-et-Cher, however, despite — or because of — its rural character, has done what it takes to ensure more universal coverage.

8 comments:

  1. Our Federal Govt is working on High Speed internet as well - currently we pay AUS$49 per month. It works well - no problems.

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  2. Leon & Sue: The broadband in Australia is quite slow by world standards, but it's still better than what we get in the Gers which apparently ranks at less than 10% of the French average. The nominal 2MB that Orange sells is far far less in practice - I can't actually watch a YouTube video live - I either have to let it cache for a while or download it and watch it later. Video over Skype is awful at best.

    ...but we're lucky as the people in the next hamlet, only another 500m away get none at all.

    I know a number of people in the area who have no wired broadband and have to use satellite at great expense and slow speed. There's apparently a new high-speed satellite over Europe, but that will not be a perfect win, as the speed-of-light limitation means there's extra latency and real-time communication like Skype is much slower than terrestrial connections.

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  3. It's hard to believe that there are places that don't have high-speed Internet, but, I have friends in a town in Illinois that didn't get high speed until about 2 years ago, I'd say. Their town is about 40 minutes from St. Louis, and it is a university town! I imagine that maybe the town itself might have had it, but they live a little bit out in the country... but, still! They were so happy to finally get it.

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  4. We are allegedly at an internet speed "up to" 18 mbps. That said, we pay $140 a month for internet and cable TV, and we have very few added chanels.

    Your cable bill seems very reasonable.

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  5. Pound for pound, I'll bet les E-U are way behind.

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  6. ADSL stands for asymmetric DSL in both English and French. Most DSL lines are asymmetric, though it's not noted because most users don't have heavy outbound (towards the net) traffic.

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  7. We only got DSL, and only at the slowest speed, in my area of rural Arizona, 3 or 4 years ago. Many areas still do not have it. I pay $40/month for it. Slow as it may be in the DSL world, I would hate to go back to dial up.

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  8. Eleanor, you are surely right.

    PeakTV, thanks, yes. My point is that DSL doesn't mean anything in France, but ADSL (ah-day-ess-'ehl) does.

    Cindy, I hear you. You can't count on having DSL everywhere in France. I'd have a hard time living without it now.

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