Orange is launching its very high-speed satellite Internet offer in France, mainly aimed at users living in isolated areas without access to optical fiber. How to compete with Starlink?
Despite all the efforts of operators, the deployment of fiber on French territory takes time and, worse, it proves impossible in certain so-called white zones, where the weather and geography impose technical challenges and high costs to implement relay antennas. Fortunately, satellite connectivity allows people in underserved areas to have access to high-speed Internet thanks to thousands of small satellites circulating in low orbit around the Earth. No wonder that in just a few years, the high-speed space connectivity market has seen the emergence of many new players all over the world – it is estimated at $16 billion by 2030.
In France, it’s Orange’s turn to enter the race. In addition to fiber, 5G and fixed 4G, the historic operator has been planning for several years to launch its satellite offer. A few days after the launch of its Livebox 7, it announced with great fanfare its new satellite Internet access offer for the French, and more particularly for homes deprived of optical fiber, particularly in the famous white areas. This offer, called Orange Satellite, is available from November 16 at the price of €49.99 per month – the first month is free – in addition to the kit costs, with a twelve-month commitment. For Jean-François Fallacher, Deputy Director, CEO Orange France, it is about“a new step towards the deployment of Very High Speed for everyone and everywhere, in mainland France. We are proud at Orange to be able to offer all of our customers a very High Speed access solution thanks to our technological mix .”
Orange Satellite: a very high-speed Internet offer
This offer was initially to be called “Le satellite Orange avec Nordnet”, a subsidiary specializing in the operator’s satellite offers and which already has 25,000 customers in mainland France. Indeed, the satellite service operates thanks to a partnership concluded with the European commercial satellite operator Eutelsat and its new Konnect VHTS satellite. The latter was put into orbit last year and has a theoretical capacity of 500 Gb/s. Note that Nordnet already has its own satellite Internet offer, whose prices range from 40 to 80 euros per month depending on the services included, to which must be added the cost of the equipment. The Orange Satellite offer offers higher speeds than current satellite offers offered directly through Nordnet, whose maximum speed with the most expensive offer is 100 Mb/s – for comparison, the speed with Starlink is ‘around 200 Mb/s – since it promises a very high speed which can go up to 200 Mbit/s for downloading (download speed) and 15 Mbit/s for uploading (upload speed) – let’s nevertheless keep in mind that These are only theoretical flow rates.
The offer includes unlimited calls to landline numbers in mainland France, as well as fifty other destinations. Calls are also unlimited to mobiles in mainland France and eight other destinations. Note that it is not necessary to change your telephone number to benefit from this. In addition to the monthly €49.99, you must purchase a Satellite Kit, available for purchase for €299 or to rent for €8 per month. To install it, customers can do it themselves, call on a network of specialist installation partners or pay for the pause option with Orange, at €299 with a one-year warranty . The commissioning costs are set at €35 and the delivery costs at €15. In total, sera represents a significant sum, but it is possible to benefit from state aid thanks to the “Digital Territorial Cohesion” system.
Satellite Internet: an alternative to optical fiber for isolated areas
The satellite Internet connection makes it possible to serve the most isolated areas, because it does not require the installation of terrestrial infrastructure, which is very – too – expensive for operators to set up due to very difficult climatic or geographical conditions. It is therefore the best alternative for rural premises to benefit from a high-speed Internet connection. This is why, according to Orange, the new offer is mainly aimed at French people who do not have access to optical fiber. Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange, indicated last summer that “the Orange satellite with Nordnet will be offered digitally and in all Orange stores and customer services, at a price equivalent to that of an optical fiber offer”.
With this new offer, Orange enters into direct competition with the service of billionaire Elon Musk, which has been offered in France since 2021 for the price of 40 euros per month – to which we must also add the cost of the hardware – and has already managed to conquer the hearts of some 10,000 users – even though the company has just presented its satellite connection offer intended for smartphones around the world, “called Direct to Cell” (see our article). It will also have to deal with European space operators Eutelsat and OneWeb, which merged this year into a new entity called Eutelsat Group, while Amazon has confirmed that it will launch its Kuiper satellite Internet offer in France very soon.