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  1. Mobile Broadband is MUCH more expensive in France than in the UK.

    For example in the UK, 1 Gb of data allowance valid for a month will cost you £10 (3UK). In France, 12 hours over a month will cost €35 (Orange France).

    You say you “live out in the sticks”….. That may mean that there is no 3G mobile coverage where you are.

    Your starting point as Quillan says is the network that your UK mobile roams on at your house in France. Check out their website or at a network shop and ask about coverage for using a “Cle 3G” at your location.

    A trip to McDonalds may work out cheaper….. (You can check which branches have wi-fi on their website, mcdonalds.fr) The other option is wi-fi “hotspots” in larger hotels etc.

  2. A Pay As You Go handset is almost always “locked” to the network it was sold on. This means that it will only work with that network’s SIM cards. SIM cards are not “locked” as such, it’s the phone that’s “locked”.

    Your Carrefour mobile and the Nokia you mention, if it was a Pay As You Go phone, will be “locked” to the network they were originally on. To confirm this, as AnOther says, all you need to do is try a SIM card from a different network in the phones – maybe try a friend’s? It wont damage the SIM if it doesn’t work.

    If that SIM works – then you can go ahead and use a LeClerc SIM in that phone. If when you put the different SIM into the phone you get a message on the screen something like “Invalid SIM” or “Enter Special Code” that means the phone is “locked” to the original network.

    There are a few ways to “unlock” (I think it’s faire unbloquer in French) mobiles. As AnOther says you may be entitled to get the Carrefour one unlocked for nothing. Depending on how “ancient” the Nokia is, you may be able to unlock it yourself – check to see if it’s listed on this website which gives instructions (you need to know the IMEI number (press *#06# or it will be a 15 digit number on a label under the battery) and the network it was originally locked to). http://www.trycktill.com/eng/

    Alternatively if you ask in a mobile shop they should be able to tell you where you can get it done in your area.

  3. I assume she’s on Orange UK? Their technical support (via Customer Services) should be able to trace the progress of her text messages – they should be able to tell her what time her message was sent from her handset, when it was forwarded to Bougytel and what time it was confirmed as delivered to your handset by Bougytel to Orange.

    Has the reception got worse in your area in the last month? Or have you moved?

    A couple of things she could try….. (1) Set “Message validity” to maximum time (this is in the text message settings menu. (2) She could request a “Delivery Report” for messages sent to you – this is an automatic message back from Orange to confirm the text has been delivered to your handset. To do this she should prefix her message with Rct (then a space and the message as usual). I think Orange charge 1p for delivery reports (the other networks are free!). This would alert her / you to a message that has not been delivered and she / you could then take it up with your networks.

  4. If you’re not having any luck with it, maybe it would be quicker calling Belkin support and talking to someone there? If you have a look on their website belkin.com/uk, you can get the technical support contact details – France is 0825 540026. There is a UK number but you might not be able to get through to it from France – 0845 607 7787. If that doesn’t work you could try calling their main switchboard 01933 352000 and ask if they can put you through or if there is a normal number you can call.

    I called them a good few years ago when I first got my wireless router and found them very helpful and got the problem resolved in a couple of minutes.

    You can also get online support and download instruction books and latest software on their website.

  5. Hi Steve, 

    If you have had a few goes at setting it up, it might be worthwhile doing the factory reset procedure before starting again.  Here’s how mine is set up (using in UK): 

    User name and password as those for connecting to broadband through your ISP. 

    Mine doesn’t have anything called Service Name. 

    DHCP Server On (which I think means do not use static IP address) 

    PPPoE / PPPoA…..  Mine is set to PPPoA – I cant remember why, but it works for me! 

    Dial on demand is ticked. 

    So long as you have your ISP’s user name and password it SHOULD only take a few minutes to set up…. 

    Good luck!

  6. Hi Seastar,

    Your Australian dongle will most likely be locked to your network so a French SIM card will probably not work.

    It should be easy to establish if your iPhone is locked – if, for example, you are on Telstra, try a Vodafone SIM card in it, etc.

    International data roaming charges are expensive – I cant comment on Australian networks, but it’s VERY expensive to use a UK dongle abroad. You can buy French Pay As You Go dongles (called “Clé 3G”) for around 29€. A 25€ top-up gives you 12 hours of internet access valid for 1 month. See orange.fr for more options. However, you also need to have a look at the network coverage maps for the area you will be travelling through. Be aware that there is not 3G coverage everywhere.

    You might also want to consider checking out what wi-fi hotspots are on your route.

    With regard to mobile phone calls, it really depends on who will be calling you and who you will be calling. If most of your calls will be within France, a French Pay As You Go SIM will be the cheapest option. If you use your Australian mobile, someone from Australia calling you will pay the normal cost of the call, however you will be billed the roaming charge by the minute.

    You should compare your network’s international call costs with those of the French networks.

  7. An important factor to consider is 3G mobile network coverage where you live.  Which network gives the strongest signal where you are – the easiest way to find out is check what network a UK mobile phone roams onto in the location.  You then need to check that that network has strong 3G coverage in your area.  The networks have coverage maps which will help, or you should ask in a network shop in your area.  Be aware that % coverage claims made by networks are for “population” coverage, not geographic coverage.

    I mentioned earlier that mobile broadband is much more expensive in France than UK, for example in UK £15 a month gets you 15gB per month (24 month contract on 3). Orange France give you “illimité” usage (which they could restrict to 1gB – according to condition 3 on website) for 29€90 per month (half price for 6 months on a 24 month contract) with a Huawei or ZTE modem.

    You can also buy them on Pay As You Go – Orange France charge 29€, running costs that way are steep – a 6 hour / 1 month “top up” costs 25€ (£10 in UK gets you 1bG / month on 3).

    If you go ahead and get a dongle, make sure you can cancel the contract if it does not work at the speed they claim!



  8. John,

    3UK sell Huawei D100 wireless routers designed to work with Huawei mobile broadband modems – here’s a link to it on the 3 website.  It costs about £70.  Other networks will probably sell it as Huawei is the biggest player in the mobile broadband market.

    Remember mobile broadband is MUCH more expensive in France compared with UK so you might want to bear the data usage across 2 PCs in mind.  You could just move the modem from one PC to the other unless you want to use both PCs at the same time……

  9. The cost of using UK mobiles abroad comes up from time to time - A Vodafone UK offer may be of interest…..

    During the period 1 June – 31 August, if you use a Contract or Pay As You Go Vodafone phone abroad, you are charged as if you are in the UK.  So if you have a Contract which gives you 500 minutes or texts each month, you can use them when abroad.  There is no charge to receive a call up to 60 minutes duration.

    You have to opt in to “Vodafone Passport”, which they have offered for a couple of years, however with this summer offer they have dropped the 75p per call connection charge.

    You can get details and a free PAYG SIM here:  http://www.vodafone.co.uk/


  10. Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband modems (aka “dongles”) are much cheaper in the UK than in France – all the networks offer them.

    I’ve had a 3 dongle for over a year and been pleased with the performance.  The prices have come down a lot – a PAYG dongle is now £29.99 and £10 top up gives you 1gB of data for up to 30 days.  You just buy a top up voucher every 30 days (unless you use up your credit sooner).  £49.99 gets you a dongle and 3gB allowance valid for up to 3 months, which would work out £10 cheaper than topping up each month (so long as you are staying 3 months!)

    As with mobile phones, reception can vary by network and location.  All the networks offer a money back (except for the credit) guarantee if no reception where you intend you use the dongle, so if you bought (for example) a Vodafone one and found it didn’t work where you will be staying, you could take it back and buy another network and find it works fine.  The network websites have coverage checkers so you can enter the postcode of where you are planning to stay and see which claims the best coverage.

    Mobile phones are much cheaper too – you can buy PAYG phones from as little as about £5 from shops like Carphone Warehouse, Argos, Phones 4U and big supermarkets…..

  11. Assuming your phone is a digital (DECT) cordless phone, if the screen shows “searching” it usually means the handset has lost “contact” with the base unit, either because the maximum connection range has been exceeded or the handset has become “unregistered” from the base unit.  It can also happen if the base unit is unplugged from the mains or the batteries in the handset have become totally discharged and not used for a while.

    Have a look in the instruction manual – there should be a section covering adding or removing (or registering and de-registering) handsets from the base unit.  I’d suggest you first follow the instructions for deregistering your handset and then re-register it with the base unit.

  12. Philouis,

    Can you try a SIM from a friend in France’s mobile which in on another network in your phone?  If their SIM works in your Leclerc handset, you will be able to use any UK SIM apart from 3 in your handset.

    Some of the networks give their PAYG SIMs away for free – you shouldn’t have to pay much more than £1 for one.



  13. RosyPosy,

    Note, if you are having a two-way “text conversation” with your daughters, they will pay something like 25p per text to text you on a French mobile as text messages to international mobiles are not included in any text allowance they may get.

    Although it means using 2 mobiles, it would be cheaper (or free) for them to text you on your UK mobile and for you to then reply from a Leclerc mobile.

    Remember you only get 160 characters per text message, so a quick call may be cheaper…..

  14. O2 Pay As You Go handsets are network locked, Contract handsets are not network locked although they may have network “branding” – for example the O2 bubbles wallpaper.  They may also be configured by default with the settings for O2 WAP and picture messaging although you can change this.  The “hotkeys” on a O2 PAYG will probably be set to dial O2 Voicemail and the top up line etc, but again you can change these.

    There is no need to phone O2 for the unlock code as the unlock code will not remove the O2 branding or settings.

    Re the message you get on the screen of your Leclerc handset when you put your disconnected O2 SIM into the handset, it suggests the handset may be unlocked – normally you would get a message like “Invalid SIM” if you put another network SIM into a PAYG phone (it varies according to handset make).  Do you have friend who has a phone on a network other than Leclerc – try the SIM from that phone in your Leclerc handset to establish if it is network locked.

  15. Hi Stan,

    The Leclerc PAYG SIM certainly seems to be the current favoured network for occasional use as the credit does not expire as it does on the mainstream networks.  It will also be cheaper for other people in France to call you from landlines or French mobiles.  Just check that you get good SFR reception at your house in France.

    However…..  Going back to your original post, you say that you also want to make calls to and also RECEIVE calls from the UK when you are in France……  For someone calling you from the UK, a call to a French mobile will be expensive!

    Someone phoning a UK mobile pays the normal rate for the call regardless of where the mobile they are calling is. If the caller has a contract phone, the call will come out of the “free” minutes. The receiving handset user is charged a “roaming” charge to receive the call (typically 15-20ppm). 

     The last time I looked at UK network’s international call costs, Vodafone and O2 phone, seemed to offer the best deals.  Vodafone has “Passport” whereby you pay 75p connection charge per call and are then charged as if in the UK.  You therefore pay 75p for an incoming call up to an hour. The proviso is that the handset must roam on SFR in France (this can be set manually on the phone).

    O2 have “My Europe Extra” which costs £10 a month and gives outgoing calls to any landline or mobile in Europe for 25ppm and FREE incoming calls.  So, if a friend in the UK on O2 with a tariff which gives them free unlimited O2 to O2 calls, called you in France on O2, no-one would pay anything for the call!  If you have unlimited text messages [in the UK] – they also seem to be free when made from abroad!

    One handset is obviously more convenient, however 2 handsets may work out cheaper if you anticipate receiving a lot of calls from the UK…..

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