Tag: Internet access cost

Increased value for money affecting residential broadband in Germany

Article Flag of Germany

50 MBit/s und mehr: Verbraucher wollen immer schnelleres Internet | Computer Bild.de (German language | Deutsche Sprache)

My Comments`

Recently, German households are gaining better value for money when it comes to purchasing broadband Internet service. This is affecting the higher-speed 50Mbps service packages that are being preferred by the younger people.

AVM FRITZ!Box 3490 - Press photo courtesy AVM

German Internet customers preferring better value for money for their “50Mbps Talk and Surf” service

These plans are being underscored by their availability as part of multiple-play communications-service deals which include fixed or mobile voice telephony, broadband Internet along with other services. In Germany, the service package that is commonly preferred is the “double-play” service, marketed as a “Talk & Surf” service that encompasses a fixed-line telephone service and a broadband Internet service.

The article highlighted an increase in the preferred connection speed for the broadband services over 5 years with households showing strong interest in the 50Mbps services rather than the “economy” 16Mbps services. As well, the average cost of a fixed-line telephone + broadband service in that country had been dropping slightly from EUR€35.73 per month now to EUR€28.82 per month.

It is being underscored with the increased availability of better-value 50Mbps services in Germany’s larger cities but the 16Mbps “economy” packages are being found to have reduced value for money and this price drop is being described as being a slow one. As is often noted, this kind of value for money when it comes to Internet service doesn’t extend to rural areas which tend to find themselves at a disadvantage in this field.

Personally, I would attribute the increased ubiquity of VDSL-based Internet service in Germany’s urban areas being a factor leading to the improved value for money when it comes to the higher-speed packages.

But the questions to raise regarding the German broadband market is whether there is significant infrastructure-level competition in that country? Similarly, the availability of retail-level competition for residential and small-business telecommunications services has to exist at a sustainable level to assure customers best value for money.

At least something is happening for German households where they are gaining better value for money with their Internet services.

Certainty will arise regarding the cost of Internet service in Britain

Articles

AVM FRITZ!Box 3490 - Press photo courtesy AVM

You will be certain about the price quoted for that UK Internet offer that it does not contain hidden fees

ASA solves line rental crisis in broadband world | ThinkBroadband

We will end misleading broadband adverts, thunders ASA… | The Register

UK ad watchdog forces ISPs to simplify broadband pricing | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Advertising Standards Authority (UK)

Press Release

My Comments

A situation that has affected British Internet-service customers, especially those who purchase DSL-based Internet service has been the ability for telcos and ISPs to conceal the line rental associated with a voice telephone service. The line-rental issue won’t be an issue with customers who run a cable-modem service with Virgin Media or run an FTTP service with the likes of Hyperoptic, Gigaclear or B4RN. It also included issues like the minimum duration of a telecommunications-service contract and the upfront costs that a customer had to pay to get a service going.

Now the Advertising Standards Authority has laid down new guidelines that come in to effect regarding the advertising of Internet services in relationship to the prices, contract duration and other issues. These guidelines will take effect from 31 October 2016, also when BT Openreach are to offer a naked DSL service for the UK market.

The ASA along with Ofcom conducted customer research regarding the pricing of broadband and telecommunications services in the UK. From this research, they highlighted the confusion customers were facing with things like hidden line rentals, introductory offers and upfront costs, along with the contract duration.

Now the ads and tariff listings that ISPs and telcos publish have to provide better information for their current or potential customers. This includes:

  • the upfront and monthly costs for the service factoring, with the upfront costs to have greater prominence
  • the length of the contract for services based on minimum-length contracts
  • the prices that come in to effect after an introductory-offer period has lapsed

 

As far as minimum-length contract services are concerned, the industry and consumer-protection authorities need to work on a language that describes “month-by-month” services where a customer doesn’t face a long minimum contract period. This is more so with post-paid services where a customer can cease service at the end of the billing cycle which may benefit people who are in their location on a short-term basis like a long-term tourist or a person involved in project-based work. This is because of legal confusion about these services being marketed as “no-contract” services.

What is really meant to happen with the sale of fixed-line telephony in the UK is that customers can choose between different providers for this service and pay the line rental (typically between GBP£11-16) to the provider of their choice. This is thanks to the availability of the unbundled local loop setup available for their telephony services. It can be risky with smaller and boutique DSL operators who can’t bundle with particular line-rental provider but can be easier for larger ISPs who can bundle with a line-rental provider, typically their fixed-line telephony service.

The trends likely to come forth are quoted package prices increasing along with telcos and ISPs offering “first-few-months-free” offers or providing “gifts” or “rewards” like a tablet computer or a large number of points to a loyalty program rather than the “18 months free broadband” offers.

The Brits will also benefit from the arrival of a naked DSL service where you don’t have to pay line-rental for a voice telephony service. Such a service was offered by some ISPs in Australia and New Zealand; and over the Channel in France, Germany, Denmark and Portugal. These services will be described as an SOGEA naked VDSL service that is offered in FTTC service areas and will require a mobile telephone or VoIP telephony service to satisfy voice telephony service needs.

The questions that will always be raised is whether there is real infrastructure competition in the UK or whether BT Openreach needs to be fully separated from BT in order to provide increased value for money for competing retail ISPs and their customers.

At least this will mean that anyone who is considering Internet and telecommunications services or changing their Internet service in the UK can see how much the offer that is being advertised will hit them in the hip pocket.

The issue of volume-limited tariff charts raises its ugly head in Germany with Deutsche Telekom

Article – German Language

Drosselkom: Telekom-Tarife: Wo Sie Flatrates und wo eine Drosselung bekommen | 02.12.2013 | Technik | news.de

My Comments

Previously I had touched on the issue of government involvement with providing competitive telecoms and Internet service. This was more about assuring that incumbent operators aren’t being given an unfair advantage over competing operators and is a situation that is happening in the USA but also happening in Germany.

In the USA where cable-TV companies and incumbent telcos in areas where there isn’t much in the way of competitive Internet service, the customers are being given an increasingly raw deal and are starting to face volume-limited tariff charts in a similar vein to what is happening in Australia and New Zealand and also what happens with mobile-broadband services.

Germany is facing an Internet market where their telecommunications regulator, Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), is being too favourable with Deutsche Telekom who is the incumbent telecommunications provider in that country. But there are not as many competitors in the telecoms and Internet-service space and they aren’t operating on a level playing field to what Deutsche Telekom is operating on.

What has been happening there is that Deutsche Telekom who were previously offering “flat-rate” Internet packages are moving towards similar packages to what is offered in Australia where there is bandwidth throttling and volume-driven packages. This has caused Deutsche Telekom to end up being called “Throttle-Kom” (Drosselkom) and there is consumer-law-based litigation taking place in some of the states (Lander) concerning breach of contract in relation to the “flat-rate” services.

Personally, I would like to see this also looked at by the European Commission in relation to a required level of competition for telecommunications and Internet services in built-up areas especially if Germany is to seek EU aid for communications projects. Similarly, German government departments at both the federal and state (Lander) level who have responsibility concerning competition and consumer issues need to have the country’s telecommunications and Internet-service market looked at.

Over the last decade, France and the UK have taken steps to assure competitive telecom service including Ofcom (UK’s telecoms regulator) hauling British Telecom over the coals to have them provide competitive access to the local loop at reasonable prices. This has been because the telecommunications regulators and the competition / consumer regulators have had real teeth and didn’t curry favour with particular operators.

If a country needs a lively Internet and telecommunications market where everyone can have access to a quality service at affordable prices, the telecoms regulators in that country need to work the market on a level playing field. Here, they cannot let incumbent telecoms and cable-TV operators run amok or apply double standards between incumbent and competitive operators.

Another effort in France to link the needy to the online world

Articles – French language

Emmaüs apporte Internet aux sans-abris – DegroupNews.com

Emmaüs Connect lance un programme d’accès à Internet | LeMonde Informatique

My Comments

Another effort is taking place to bring the poorer urban communities to the digital world in France. In that country, the ability to have decent broadband Internet and telephony is effectively a requirement in life due to the highly-competitive broadband market that exists there.

This is being set up by Emmaüs who help out the poorer people find housing and get a job. Emmaüs have formed a program called Emmaüs Connect which is to bridge the digital-divide gap to these communities.

This is being set up in conjunction with SFR and is based on mobile broadband technologies using a prepaid service. In France, 57% of the populace who live below an income of €900 / month don’t have access to their own Internet service. The Internet component is being considered important because of its relevance to performing personal administrative tasks such as paying bills; as well as finding work.

The Internet component is serviced by a 3G “Mi-Fi” router which is part of the prepaid service that works on a rolling 9-month contract.  Participants would be expected to pay up €1 per month to benefit from the program, which SFR refers to as the “Option Solidaire”.

Initially this program was rolled out around Paris but is being pushed out to other cities like Marseilles, Grenoble, St Denis and Antony. They are also targeting a rural area in Roanne so as to reach out to rural communities. There is a goal to set up 100,000 of these programs across France by the end of 2014.

Of course, this may be something that is scoffed at in the Anglo-American business world who value fast profit no matter the cost to others. But it is an activity being organised by a non-profit charity in conjunction with a regular telecommunications company and is something not to be scoffed at.

Multi-line mobile contracts or fixed-line plans for partially-used buildings–what’s happening

There are two main usage classes that ISPs and telecommunciations carriers will have to cater towards when it comes to providing fixed or mobile communications and Internet service.

One is a “multi-line” mobile contract that allows multiple post-paid mobile devices to exist on the same account at cost-effective tariffs. The other is catering to fixed-line communications services that serve secondary locations, especially those that aren’t occupied on a full-time basis.

The multi-line mobile contract

The reason that the multi-line mobile contract needs to be available to home or small-business users is that most mobile-wireless-communications users will end up maintaining at lest two, if not three or more mobile communications devices.These kind of plans are typically sold to larger businesses who have a large fleet of mobile devices and are sold for a large premium with a large minimum-device requirement but they need to be available for the small number of devices that a householder or small-business owner would own.

The typical scenario would be a smartphone used for voice, SMS/MMS messaging and on-device Internet use; alongside a data-only device like a tablet or laptop that either has integrated wireless broadband or is connected to a separate wireless broadband service via a USB modem or “Mi-Fi” wireless-broadband router.

Feature that are typically offered in these contracts include a data allowance that is pooled amongst the devices and / or reduced per-device plan fees. In some cases,  the services may provide unlimited “all-you-can-eat” voice telephony and text messaging or a similar option.

An increasing number of mobile-telephony operators are tapping this market by offering these plans. For example, the two main mobile-telephony players in the USA, AT&T and Verizon are putting up shared-data plans from US$40 per month for 1Gb of data to up to US$50 for 500Gb of data on AT&T with similar pricing from Verizon. Both these companies offer unlimited talk and text for phones connected to the plan. Similar efforts have taken place with Bougyes Télécom in France and Airtel in India where they are offering shared-data plans as part of their tariff charts. There has even been rumours that Telstra was to be the first Australian mobile phone provider to run a shared-data plan for the Australian market.

Fixed-line plans for partially-used secondary locations

This user class represents people who maintain city apartments, holiday homes and seasonal homes like summer houses but don’t live in these locations on a full-time basis. Typically they are occupied for shorter periods like a weekend or a week at a time or, in the case of a seasonal home, a few consecutive months. It is known for some of these properties to be shuttered for many consecutive months at a time.

On the other hand, this market isn’t serviced readily by the fixed-line telephony, pay-TV and Internet providers, save for Orange (France Télécom) who offer a “by-the-month” package for Internet and telephony to the French market. Here they got in to a spat with SFR because SFR, who was buying wholesale service from Orange, wanted to offer a similar “by-the-month” service for these customers. On the other hand, users are sold plans that have lesser call or data allowances and may be lucky to have the option to have all the service locations on one account.

Again, larger enterprises who have many services and a large amount of call traffic fare better than smaller businesses or residential users.

These users could be satisfied with a “by-the-month” service or a seasonal plan that provides full service for a time period that is predetermined by the customer with limited service outside that time period. Such a limited service could be specified to cater for security and home-automation equipment used to monitor the secondary premises or keep it in good order.

If a plan works on call or data allowance and the user maintains services provided by the same provider at each location, there could be the ability to offer plans that have the allowances pooled across the locations. Similarly, if a user has the same service provider or a related company provide communications services to all the locations, they could offer a reduced price for all of the services. It doesn’t matter if the secondary property is on the same service plan as the primary property or on a lesser plan that has fewer services or smaller allowances.

Conclusion

What needs to happen is that telephone and Internet companies need to pay attention to customers’ needs and look for the “gaps in the market” that currently exist. This could allow for a range of tariffs that is more granular and able to suit particular needs. It also includes situations where a user is responsible for a small number of services of the same kind whether as multiple wireless-broadband devices or fixed-line services serving two or more properties.

You may not have to pay extra for Internet access at that business hotel in some situations

Introduction

Rydges Melbourne

Some accommodations plans offered by hotels like this one do include wireless Internet access

A common gripe I have heard from travellers in relation to Internet access at hotels, especially the “big-time” hotel chains is that they charge too much for Internet access rather than providing it as a complimentary service.

There are two ways you can benefit from this access without having to pay extra.

The business-focused accommodation deal

Some hotels offer a business-focused deal which includes at least accommodation, breakfast served in the main restaurant along with the Internet access for the duration of your stay. Most often, some of these packages are offered through the weekdays and, in some cases, may be cheaper that the standard accommodation-only rate. Different properties may throw in extras like reduced business-centre costs, or a rebate on your food or drink bill.

This is in a similar vein to how some of the accommodation+breakfast deals may cost slightly more than the accommodation-only deals yet you have the breakfast which would cost significantly more as part of the package.

Examples of these include:

It is also worth paying attention to the club-floor or concierge-floor programs that some of these hotels offer which will have complimentary or reduced-price Internet access. These premium-priced programs are related to a cluster of rooms on a particular floor where you also have access to an exclusive-access lounge, complimentary food and drinks amongst other things depending on the program.

That frequent-lodger program that the hotel offers

Some of the hotels who run a frequent-lodger program may offer cheaper or inclusive Internet access for all members of the program. An example of this is the Marriott Rewards program which provides inclusive Internet access to guests checking in using this plan. Another example is the PriorityGUEST program which reduces the standard property-specific Internet access costs by half for members who check in at a Rydges, QT or Art Series hotel with their PriorityGUEST card.

Conclusion

It makes sense to spend extra time trawling through Websites and similar material offered by a big-name hotel chain or other hotel that charges for Internet access and look for the accommodation packages or frequent-lodger programs that integrate access to this service.

It is worth knowing that any particular package or promotion that I mention in this article may be subject to change.

Secondary-house Internet packages now a key issue in France

Article – French language

Les résidences secondaires : sujet de discorde entre SFR et Orange – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

In the USA, some of the carriers who run wireless-broadband service have had to deal with an untested but real market in the form of the multiple-device user. This is where an account holder maintains multiple wireless-broadband devices like a smartphone, tablet or “Mi-Fi” router, Here, they are having to formulate the right plans that encompass multiple devices and have them gain access to larger bandwidth-allowance pools. It will take some time for these plans to be adjusted properly as the “bugs” and customer-service issues are ironed out in order to achieve the right multi-device plan.

But in France, a spat has occurred between SFR and France Télécom (Orange) over another untested but real service class that is facing the telecommunications aind Internet-service industry. This is a service that is provided to a secondary house like a city flat or a holiday house that is lived in on an occasional basis; and is considered important with France with 3 million householders owning such a place that is typically occupied 44 days in a year.

The accusation that is being raised by SFR is that Orange is working in an uncompetitive manner when targeting this market by offering a particular non-committed Internet package for this user class. SFR say that they can’t offer a similar deal because of their wholesale-bandwidth purchasing agreement with Orange.

There is a reality that people who use these properties do use a wireless broadband service due to its suitability to temporary setups and “there-and-then” setup requirements. But there is a desire by the carriers to provide the “full-bore” fixed broadband service, especially as part of a fixed-line telephony or triple-play package to these houses.

This is augmented more so by the desire for the competitive operators needing to pitch to this market and yield a “secondary-home” service that represents high value in a similar vein that is expected across France.

Personally, I would like to see other telecommunications and Internet-service operators that exist outside France looking at the “secondary-residence” user class more seriously and pitch telecommunications and Internet services that mean real value to them. This includes rental plans for services that are occasionally used such as 3-month / 12-month plans, plans that offer value to multiple-location services and, where applicable, services where bandwidth allowances for many locations are pooled to a larger allowance.

This also should encompass homes which are occupied on a seasonal basis like “summer homes” or houses that are let out to other users on a short-term basis. As well, it could encompass home / business setups where a person has a home office but also maintains a shopfront or secondary office for their business and they want the same communications needs replicated at both sites.

Costly Internet access still an issue at La Réunion

Article – French language

Les prix de l’accès à Internet suscitent la grogne à la Réunion – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

La Réunion is one of France’s “outre-mer” départements, best understood as a colony of that country. It is an island located in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. But like most of these French colonies, there are a handful of telecommunications operators who are offering Internet service to the people and businesses on that island.

A major gripe that is currently being raised here is the cost of broadband Internet service on that island which is more expensive than equivalent service provided in France’s mainland. The common ask is €39.90 – €49.90 per month for 20Mb/s Internet service along with EUR€10 for regular telephone service. These services would also encompass 20-34 TV channels and inclusive calling to 50-100 destinations.

Other issues that were raised included poor service quality. But there is activity in Paris to encourage the operators in La Réunion and the other “Outre-Mer” territories to improve those services and price in a more keen manner.

Personally, I would like to see these areas increasingly become on-ramps to more of the communications links that are part of the Internet like the satellite uplinks or submarine / inland cable links. These can allow themselves and neighbouring countries to gain access to improved Internet bandwidth and give the neighbouring countries access to competing communications links.

This kind of work could then lift these “DOM” countries to a position where they can economically prosper and can expose their citizenry to good education.

Setting up for Internet in France

Key Resources – French languageFlag of France

DegroupNewsFrance map

DegroupTest

Service Providers

Free.frFreebox, Alicebox

Orange (France Télécom) – Livebox

Bougyes TélécomBbox

SFR – Neufbox

CompletelDartyBox

Introduction

If you have bought or are thinking of buying that chic apartment or holiday home in France, you may also be considering setting up Internet service along with your phone service for that property. Here, it will become very difficult to choose the service that suits your needs because most, if not all, of these services are priced very keenly.

Competitive market

Map of FranceHere, you are dealing with a highly-competitive communications-service market which supports local-loop unbundling or discrete infrastructure to your premises for the Internet services. This applies both to copper-based ADSL services and fibre-optic next-generation broadband services.

It is infact so much so that in most French cities and towns, being equipped with broadband “hot-and-cold running” Internet and unlimited-use landline telephony is considered a “given”.

ADSL technology

If a provider provides local-loop-unbundled access to phone lines in your service area, the area is described in French as a “zone dégroupé” for this provider. This allows the provider to provide the best service available that they can offer to you. It is because they simply have their ADSL equipment in your exchange, with an arrangement for direct access to your phone line’s wiring.

The DegroupNews site has an interactive map of France which allows you to know whether your desired provider provides this kind of access in your town and its sister site DegroupTest allows you to enter in your French location’s telephone number so you can know who can provide the unbundled access to your phone number.

Fibre-optic next-generation broadband

If you are able to have fibre-optic next-generation broadband, this will also come mostly as fibre-to-the-premises but in a competition-enhanced format. Here, you will have a “monofibre” setup with one fibre-optic line from the street to your premises and fibre-optic switches would be used to select which fibre-optic next-generation provider would provide the broadband to your home.

On the other hand, you may have a “multifibre” with fibre-optic lines from each competing infrastructure provider fed to a special multi-input wall socket in your premises. Here, an installer would select the connection that pertains to the service you subscribe to by modifying this wall socket.

Rural broadband Internet

Most rural areas of France will have ADSL Internet provided for by Orange (France Télécom) at least, but there is still work needed to be done with some sparse country areas not having the ability to support the full offering, especially the TV part of the triple-play service.  There is action taking place in some parts of France like Brittany that is being brought about by local and regional governments, with some assistance from Paris as well as business assistance.

It may be worth checking with local government, local chambers of commerce, Orange and local businesses; as well as consulting DegroupNews to find out what is going on for Internet at that “mas en Provence”; mountain home in the Pyrenees, Alps or Massif Centrale; or other country dwelling.

Of course, there is a strong likelihood that the main resort areas lke the Pyrenean and Alpine ski resorts and the main seaside resorts on the French Riviera (Côte D’Azur) like Saint Tropez will be dégroupé (fully unbundled) by the popular operators like Free or SFR.

Triple-play service

Most of these Internet service providers offer a “triple-play” service with broadband Internet, regular landline telephony and multichannel pay TV as a single package. This setup is specifically in the form of a single-pipe triple-play service with all services carried over the one copper or fibre-optic link between your premises and their exchange setup.

Services

Typically, you put down at least 25-30 euros per month for at least 20Mbps ADSL broadband, more TV channels to choose from, and calling anywhere in France at least as part of this cost.

A fully-equipped service with all of the channels on the TV, fibre-optic broadband and inclusive telephone calling to landlines and mobiles in the most-often-called countries in the world would set you back by approximately 40 euros per month.

There are even times when you can’t really call an accurate benchmark price and service mix for telephone and Internet service there because these prices can be keenly honed or services quickly varied for value. This is an example of how keen this competitive communications environment is in France.

The hardware

You would be provided with what is referred to as a “box” which is an Internet gateway device which also houses a VoIP analogue-telephony-adaptor as well as a “décodeur” which is an IPTV / digital-broadcast-TV set-top box. Mostly, these devices would be connected to each other via a HomePlug AV link, known in French as “réseau CPL”.

These Internet gateway devices are typically known as “Livebox”, “Freebox”, “Bbox”, “Neufbox” or some similar marketing name which also applies to the triple-play service you subscribe to and I refer to these services and routers in this article and across HomeNetworking01.info as an “n-box” because of the naming convention used by the carriers.

Increasing you are dealing with carrier-provided home network hardware that is above the ordinary when it comes to anything a telco or ISP would provide as standard for their customers. I would expect the latest incarnations of these devices to be a well-bred 802.11g/n Wi-Fi router with four Ethernet ports and UPnP Internet Gateway Device functionality.

Increasingly, these Internet gateway devices also are capable of being a network-attached storage device when you connect a USB hard disk to them or, in some cases, through the use of an integrated hard disk. If they have this function, they will typically work as an CIFS-compliant network file share as well as a media server for a particular media directory using iTunes (DAAP) or DLNA standards.

Similarly, the set-top boxes would be capable of being DLNA network media clients as well as increasingly becoming personal video recorders. Of course, this hardware is regularly and frequently updated with firmware that adds on extra functionality.

The Freebox Révolution – the best example of these “n-boxes”

One of these devices that I have given a fair bit of airtime to is the Freebox Révolution. Here, I wrote an article on this site about this piece of stunning industrial design which has an integrated Blu-Ray player in its décodeur (set-top box) and works tightly with the Apple ecosystem. For that matter, if you head for this option, you may be in a position to forego the need for a DVD player to go with the flat-screen TV that you intend to hook the Freebox Player to.

Choosing the right triple-play setup for that French property.

Who is it “dégroupé” to?

If you are coming in to France and have bought that “appartément en Paris” or “mas en Provence”, use the map in the DegroupNews website to identify who is covering your area in an unbundled or “dégroupée” state at the moment. You may also have to use the DegroupTest resource if you know your property’s current phone number or the phone number of one or two of your neighbours if you haven’t got phone service on in your location.

The right offers

Then, once you know who has the service under the “dégroupée” conditions, head to the service provider’s Web page and look at what they have to offer. For the telephony packages that come with any of these services, make sure that you have chosen the plan that allows you to make calls to your home country or frequently-called destinations “illimité” i.e. for no extra cost.

As for Internet use, choose the bandwidth that suits your needs, including allowing for use of the IPTV and interactive entertainment services that will be available through your “décodeur” set-top box. These services aren’t metered so there isn’t any worry about a broadband download limit or how much bandwidth you have used.

You also check that you have the TV channel packages that meet your needs, although most of these channels will be available with the shows running in native language audio with French-language subtitles (version originale sous-titres).

Getting the most out of your “n-box”

Firmware updates

All of the “n-boxes” and their corresponding “décodeurs” do undergo frequent and regular firmware updates, most often to accommodate new services and supply new functionality as well as to keep a stable operating environment. Some of them may perform a “blind” update or you perform the update manually by heading to the management Web page (page de gestion) or the Setup Menu and looking for the “mis à jour” or “mettre à jour” option.

Using an UPS to provide telephone-service continuity

A good practice would be to purchase a low-capacity uninterruptable power supply and connect the Livebox, Freebox or similar Internet gateway to that device if you don’t want to lose phone service during a power cut. Here, you may have to purchase a separate “homeplug” for those devices like the Freebox Révolution that use a power supply and “homeplug” module as their power supply and connectivity to the TV.

The best example of these UPS devices that would suit the “n-box” would be the APC ES series UPS units which are like a large thick power strip. Here, you would need to purchase these units in France so that you have the correct French power sockets on the unit and it comes with a proper Continental power plug.

Exploiting the n-box’s integrated NAS functionality

If the “n-box” has NAS functionality, whether with an integrated hard disk or a USB external hard disk that you supply yourself, it is a good idea to exploit this function. Here, you can use the storage capacity as a drop-off point for files that you move or copy between computers via the home network. Similarly, you could dump the latest pictures from your camera to a known directory on the NAS, share it via DLNA and view them using the set-top box or DLNA media app on your tablet.

Property owners who let others use their properties could place electronic copies of the reference material for that house on to the network storage. Then the people who are using these properties can download the material to their laptops or to their smartphones and tablets that are equipped with SMB-compliant file-manager apps.

The “n-box” may support this function with the aid of a USB external hard drive but may not provide enough power to run some of the small USB hard disks on the market. These drives typically have a separate USB connection for power, so you could then plug this USB power connection in to a self-powered USB hub or an AC-USB power supply, which you could pick up from Darty, Carrefour or other similar stores.

But I would still use a regular NAS for applications where the security of your data is concerned such as computer-system backup. This means that you are able to keep your data if you shift between carriers, the “n-box” plays up and the carrier has to replace it, or you move out of your French abode. As well, the regular NAS can handle intense data-sharing applications more readily than the “n-box” as a NAS.

Key terms and words to remember

Dégroupé(e) A condition of direct unbundled local-loop access to your phone line by your carrier
Monofibre Single fibre run to your premises with access to competing fibre carriers
Multifibre Multiple fibre runs to your premises with each owned by a competing finre carrier. Selected using a special wall socket
Box (n-box) Carrier-provided Internet gateway device (router) with at least a VoIP analogue-telephony adaptor and/or DECT base station
Décodeur Carrier-provided TV set-top box that connects to the Internet gateway device
CPL HomePlug powerline network
page / interface de gestion Web management page for the “n-box”
mettre à jour (mis à jour) update (often used in relation to these devices’ firmware)

Conclusion

This guide will help you with planning for and setting up an Internet service for that property that you have or are  dreaming to have in France.

Switching telephone and broadband in the UK

Article

thinkbroadband :: Making broadband switching easier

My Comments

The reason I am pleased about this article that provides information for British consumers about switching their fixed-line telephone or broadband Internet service provider is helping them understand what can be involved with any of these changeovers in a hilghly-competitive market.

For example, it stresses the importance of satisfying contractural obligations like seeing out any fixed-term plans or making sure that the last bills with the prior service provider are “squared off” completely.

As well, they mentioned about procedures that may be in place with you and your provider in order to protect you from being switched to different communications providers against your will, a practice known as “slamming”. This may involve a letter of confirmation that you sign and return or a passcode that you give to the customer representative of your previous and/ or new provider to authorise you change.

They covered different changeover scenarios such as moving between two retail providers using the same wholesale provider or different wholesale providers. This also included situations where the different wholesale providers use different backend “exchange-to-exchange” infrastructure. There is even the case of a setup where the handover involves totally different infrastructure like heading to a cable or fibre-based provider from an ADSL provider.

But some people do change their telephone or broadband provider when they change their home or business locations; and this usually is a simpler practice of “winding up” business with the previous provider and starting afresh with the current provider. If the move is within the same town and you retain your current phone number, it may be similar to changing service providers at your current address.

People in other countries that are heading towards highly-competitive telephone and broadband markets should have a look at the ThinkBroadband article so they can be aware of what happens when users are shifted between different providers.