French mobile phone contracts drop in price: Should you switch?

Tariffs can vary hugely between networks, but the more expensive deals often include more ‘extras’

Is now the right time to switch contracts?

Now could be a good time to change mobile phone contracts in France, as the price of ‘forfaits’ is falling faster now than at any time in the past five years.

"In recent weeks we've seen a fairly drastic fall in the price of mobile phone packages," said Julia Jimenez, telecoms specialist at Zone ADSL & Fibre, to La Dépêche du Midi

The company has just published a comparative study of the main national operators, including SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Orange.

“Now is the time [to change tariff if you want to save], said Ms Jimenez. “Prices haven't been this low for a long time, and the market is changing very quickly.”

How much are prices dropping? 

The average monthly subscription has dropped by 24.4% in one year, to cost €12.93 per month, states the latest barometer from the broker Ariase.

This is the average for: 

  • A plan with unlimited text messages and calls, and at least 10GB of internet allowance 

  • The four main operators (Orange, Free, Bouygues Télécom and SFR) 

  • The low-cost subsidiaries of the four main operators: Sosh, NRJ Mobile, B & You, and Red

Why are prices dropping?

It is mainly a response from the lower-cost operators in a bid to recapture some customers. Altice, which includes SFR, RED and Prixtel, announced it had lost around 450,000 customers in the first quarter of 2024.

Since then, the group has aggressively lowered its prices. Bouygues Telecom (which operates B & You and NRJ Mobile), has also dropped prices by 12% to counter the rapid growth of Free.

“We're seeing a race to the bottom," said Ms Jimenez.

What are the most attractive packages?

It depends on the data allowance you need, but the lowest-price packages currently cost around €9. 

The barometer compared prices of similar subscriptions over 24 months, for the dates of May 13 to June 17, 2024, and found that for the lowest-price tariffs, from €8.99 and €10.49 per month, prices for NRJ, Prixtel, and Red all fell by around 20%. 

Similarly, prices at Free have been frozen until 2027, and those at Sosh and La Poste Mobile were the same. Only the lowest-cost Orange package was 2% more expensive over that time.

The graph below, from the Zone ADSL report, shows that prices can vary considerably (and even triple) from one operator to the next. The lowest price here is NRJ Mobile, and the highest is Orange.

The graph compares the operators based on the average monthly cost of a plan that includes 140GB of data per month.

The cheapest packages are not necessarily the ‘best’ depending on your needs, however. 

Prices can vary significantly between operators

Often the more expensive deals include more extras, including data allowances if you travel abroad, 5G as standard, a shorter contract length, better customer service, and wider network coverage.