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Internet in rural France: New study shows how bad it really can be

Mobile speeds can be 66% lower than in urban areas, a consumer study has shown, with some speeds ‘barely minimum for accessing basic services’

 An older man looking annoyed at a phone, holding it up, outside

Mobile internet signal in rural France really can be up to 66% slower than in urban areas, a new study has shown Pic: Stock-Asso / Shutterstock

Average mobile internet speeds in rural parts of France can be as much as 66% lower than in urban areas, a new study has found, which will come as no surprise to many residents in more remote places.

A new study by consumer group UFC-Que Choisir confirmed the percentage.

It used data from its app, Queldébit, which launched last June and is intended to help users test the quality of their mobile Internet connection. 

In total, the study considered 5.15 million pieces of data, collected between December 1, 2020 and  November 30, 2021 and said it was based on more than 520,000 tests.

UFC-Que Choisir divided the country into three zones:

  • Urban: Towns with more than 400,000 inhabitants; 
  • Intermediate: Towns with between 10,000 and 400,000 inhabitants 
  • Rural: Towns with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants and all municipalities outside these towns.

The group stated that there is “an extremely marked territorial inequality, since in urban areas the average flow rates are 66% higher than in rural areas."

The speed of 8 megabits per second "is not reached in 25% of cases at a national level, and even in 32% of cases in rural areas", it said.

It also found that these averages “hide disparities” and internet speeds that are even worse in some areas. It said: "14.3% of the speeds recorded are below 3 megabits per second, the minimum speed for accessing basic mobile Internet services, such as web browsing, in barely decent conditions.

4G vs 5G

It found that 4G mobile coverage is still the main option across most of France, and even this does not offer sufficiently high-speed internet access in much of the country. 

This was in contrast to the newer 5G connection, which has been available for use in some areas to compatible phones since November 2020.

It also found that in rural areas, upgrading your phone and data plan from 4G to 5G yields barely noticeable results, but that “going from a 4G plan to a 5G plan yields a considerable improvement in performance” in urban areas.

It said: “The average speed of 5G in rural zones is less than the average speed of 4G in highly-populated areas.”

Tips to improve your mobile phone connection

The group advises that the following may help:

  • Close tabs you do not use
  • Delete applications you no longer use
  • Clear your cache and internet history of your usual browser

According to the antivirus website, turning your phone off and on, or restarting it, can sometimes enable it to speed up. 

Another way to get better access in some cases is to enable and then disable "Airplane Mode" on your device.

Related articles

How can I find the internet speed potential of our home in France? 

Where internet broadband speed is best in France

€242m to boost internet speed in 10 French departments 

Where can I complain about slow internet speed in France?

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