Prepaid mobile data in France : 1 month for 9 Eur

orangefrActually 9 Eur is the cost of monthly Internet Max package, the total with the SIM card will cost you somewhere around 25Eur.

Prepaid mobile data in France on Orange network – it’s available, but a bit tricky to configure – there are plenty or articles on the Internet with the detailed instruction on how to do this, so I will put here just the quick recap.

  • Go to the Orange store and ask for “mobicarte” – this is the name of the prepaid package, even if your French is not very good you will be able to get it for ~9.90Eur(with 5Eur credit on the card). Have your phone with you when you will go to the store. Do turn off your phone DATA connection! While in the store ask for 15Eur top-up coupon – that’s the lowest amount you will need inf you are not planning to use the phone for the voice calls.
  • Keep your phone on and registered on the network until you will get SMS from Orange that you were registered with their database (very important might take up to 2 days)
  • Use #123# USSD menu from your phone dialer to order “Internet Max”option – if your French is not very fluent, use following clues – Menu, Options, Multimedia, Internet Max, 9 Eur par mois. Follow menu prompts to subscribe, you will get SMS saying that for activation you will need to wait 48 hours. Keep your phone DATA off all the time
  • Within 2 days you will get another SMS saying that your Internet Max option is activated
  • Note 1: This package does not include VoIP (strictly forbidden in France, even in hotels or on other Wi-Fi hotspots), and e-mail – if you are planning to use e-mail (SMTP,POP,IMAP) – consider purchasing additional monthly package for 6 Eur, if you can make-do with webmail then you are fine
  • Note 2: Internet will be active on your phone for month even with zero balance, so all SMS reminders could be safely ignored. But if you are staying in France for over 1 month and planning to continue using Internet Max, you will have to recharge your account and go into #123# menu, then Suivi Conso+, Options, Internet Max, and there manually re-apply the option to have the package activated, otherwise your Data connection will be using pay-per-use rate and drain your account balance real fast (learned it the hard way after loosing 35Eur credit in just 1 day)

A few words about overall Internet using experience in France – it sucks. Unlike Italy where is sucks “directly” and “in your face” in France it sucks indirectly in multiple subtle ways.
For example – Orange 3G imposes proxy on your connection. While I can understand the idea of conserving bandwidth this proxy is not compatible with some combination of TCP options (TCP SACK, Timestamps to name a few) – I had a very painful experience with this from the server point of view, now being a customer you may end up with the lots of “broken” web sites that can not load complete page.
Another example – blocking VoIP services on WiFi and on the phones. Voice plan on Orange is pretty expensive – I don’t know how much are the international rates but I would safely assume that there is nothing attractive and cheap there either – why exactly am I not allowed to save couple of euros on international calls while in France?
Based on this here is my advice – if you have some time to prepare, look for reliable OpenVPN proxy provider (with an offer of TCP SSL VPN running on port 443 to bypass proxy) somewhere geographically close to not lose much on latency – to make your VoIP application work over it.
In my experience IM services are running better over VPN as well (I guess there is scare of using MSN, Gtalk voice options that force Orange to mess with it).
Or if you have always-connected server you can configure OpenVPN server yourself.
Update: If you happen to use your prepaid Orange for more then a month (continuously or on and off just like me), please do not be fooled by the presence of the Option Internet Max on your account configuration – that DOES NOT mean that when you add enough money on your account it will be reactivated – I think Orange.FR is still working on this feature, so for now you have to do it yourself to get flat fee Internet data (otherwise they will charge you modest fee of 50c/min or something like that).
In order to do that you can use 2 options – go to the Orange store or doing it yourself online. After trying the store once I decided against that – I just don’t have spare 3 hours of my life for spending it in the store – even with mega-helpful very friendly staff it is not going to take any less time.
On the other hand online it was a bit easier – login with your phone #, go to the options and UNSUBSCRIBE (yes you are reading me correct) from the option Internet MAX, then subscribe again – given that you have enough money on your account you will see 9Euro deducted and you are good to go.

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  1. I have to seen this option 9 euro for unlimted net month. I have baught from 2 month may be And I buying from orange store 10 euro. After I buy more credit and then I have 25 euro credit but I didn’t get option. So please. My num 0689755082. So please reply me when start for 9 euro for mobth.

    • You can go to the Orange mobile web portal and look for “Internet Max” option for your account there – for last 3 times I was enabling this option via internet portal because using USSD was too painful

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