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Your PC brought from the UK will work fine in France. Clearly the plug sockets may need changing or running a UK 3-pin extension for your equipment. With the propensity of power cuts and surges that are not uncommon in France, the use of a surge protector (parafoudre in French) at least is recommended.
Keeping all of the original install CDs and any back-up or Restore CDs and bringing them with you would also be worthwhile if you should have any problems.
Most Broadband/ADSL modem routers (whether wired or WiFi) will work satisfactorily if you already have one.
One of the biggest issues with purchasing a PC in France is that of :
a) The Operating System being in French – all depends on how comfortable you are with it.
b) Keyboards! If you are used to the QWERTY style keyboard then the French style AZERTY one can make typing a whole new experience. You can get a UK keyboard and adjust the settings but one would be easier and cheaper to get hold of in the UK.
Computer components and peripherals are now slowly coming more in line with UK prices – especially from some on-line French retailers.
De-regulated areas can sometimes get cheaper ADSL however, and you can drop FT for your phone landline too (depending on what companies are available in your area).
There are couple of websites that allow you to put your French phone number in to see what area you are in and what services are available to you.
Very remote hamlets or anywhere that has a large distance involved to the local ‘exchange’ as such can be left with only Dial-up capability via the phone line.
The chosen supplier may need to activate your line for ADSL before you can get on-line which can typically take 5~10 working days from the request being made.
WiMax is another option, using an ‘aerial’ receiver to pick-up the service from a local transmitter. This is like any other terrestrial transmission in that it will depend on broadcast locations and proximity/unobstructed view to the local transmitter. Service prices are comparable with the land based ADSL providers (albeit with sometimes a slightly reduced connection speed), and the modem/aerial equipment for initial set-up will normally be more than the land based ones. The local Mairie and online providers should be able to give an indication of availability for your area and for any financial help with the kit/package.
There are true two-way satellite systems that send and receive everything via satellite, and the prices have come down but expect to pay slightly more for equipment/set-up and monthly/yearly running costs for an equivalent land based speed of connection. Depending on the provider and satellite used, speeds of 6~18Meg are typical although most impose a monthly bandwidth limit unless a more expensive unlimited option is chosen. If all other routes are not available to you where you live such as traditional ADSL and Wimax, then it is worth enquiring at your local Mairie as again there maybe financial help available with the kit costs if it proves the only solution.
Another way is via a plug-in card or USB adapter to connect to a mobile network. These are not always the cheapest option, although you can subscribe to a package of monthly ‘time/download volume’. For a reliable connection you would need a healthy signal where you are based (mobile coverage is dependant on the provider and where you are – and generally not as prolific as the UK coverage). If you have a French mobile and have good signal where you live then it should work reasonably well – thick French stone walls are not always the friendliest to signal (either for mobiles or WiFi in fact!). Any of the main providers in France will give details of the packages on their websites as well as the hardware needed. French networks can also have Network Busy issues, as can any in the UK at certain times.
Staying In Touch
Once you’re on-line with a reasonably healthy ADSL speed then this opens-up many possibilities to communicating at home and overseas. Typically these are the likes of Messenger services, Video sharing, VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) etc.
Really, if you are paying a monthly subscription to get the ADSL service it’s worth using to the maximum effect.
Some suppliers will offer included telephone deals with their ADSL service, and there are many third party providers that can work out at very reasonable cost as well – it’s all a case of seeing what works for you, what form of staying in touch you prefer and where your contacts are based.
You can also set-up a UK number that should allow people in the UK to call your PC and they only pay a local rate call, which can be about a tenth of the international rate.