My two bêtes noires

Well I have already dealt with one last week – l’administration française – and emerged triumphant, with my carte de séjour. Now I am faced by a bigger monster: Orange, the French telephone company, the largely privatised successor to France Telecom.

The only thing to be said in favour of Orange, which is the largest provider in France, is that apparently the three other big operators are even worse.

I pay for a package which includes mobile phone and internet. I don’t expect great reception. After all I live in the sticks. One becomes used to watching the satellite signal on the phone drop from one pathetic blob to none. The performance of the internet is not brilliant either, particularly when using FaceTime (like Skype) for chats with the family, or watching television (I have found a way to watch UK channels as well as the excellent French-German Arte)

Since Christmas I have the feeling the internet speed has got worse and for the past month it has become progressively unusable. I’m not talking about comparisons with metropolitan areas; I’m talking about a download speed which has dropped from a just about acceptable 8Mbps to less than 1Mbs. I have an app called SpeedTester and have started collecting records in order to complain to Orange. This is what it showed last night:

A download speed of less than half a Mbps is unusable. I was trying to do simple things like looking for swimming costumes for a family trip in three weeks – and had to give up. Even emails take for ever to download.

I have tried to phone Orange, but gave up after the usual lengthy time pressing options 1, 2 and 3 or trying to explain my problem (in French of course) to a computer ‘help’ person. I’m going to have another bash later in the week, when I have more time and when I have calmed down.

There is light at the end of the tunnel: we are going to have fibre optic up to the corner of my land. They are laying the cable now, with roadworks rapidly moving up the hill towards my house, but apparently it could be many months before the fibre optic is brought into service.

This morning I passed the mayor and his deputy inspecting the roadworks and mentioned my problems. Ah, said Yves, the deputy, that will be the wind. Or maybe, he added, the weekend….

Now to see if I have enough internet to post this!

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