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HyFy 05-07-2019 10:42

Mobiles - Continental Roaming
Hi there.

I know this subject has come up before but I always seem to be having problems in France with Three.

In the "old days" I used Toggle (and still do) for local calls in France and Spain etc but I also used to get a USB dongle for a notebook for all data work. In the end I got fed up with trying to find a Carrefour of whichever supermarket to renew SIMs and so I progressed to a dual SIM smarter phone and used Three "Add-ons" for everything but local calls. In fact I make very few calls or texts.

The nub of the point is that Three seems rubbish in France. It's great in Spain with excellent coverage and good data performance but the moment you cross into France the phone effectively goes dead. You might get one "zit" on the signal bar whereas the Toggle is "5 x 5". You can hardly ever get a usable data connection. This is not a local thing as obviously we are driving. I think that we were back in Normandy before we got an acceptable signal. This has happened in previous years.

While it was playing up I called Three on 2 "zits" but no reasonable data performance. They gave me the usual " we can control the coverage in England but not abroad. I suggested that they could by changing contracts to a better coverage company. Their reply was to credit £10 to my account but it didn't improve the signal!

Question: Are there alternatives, price-wise to Three's roaming service and if so which companies. What are their time restrictions i.e how long can you use them before they cut you off. I'm not going to say how we get around the Three's two months restriction in case they are watching!!

Are there any other ways to get good cheap data abroad? I shall be going back to locally bought SIM cards...

By a "good data signal" I mean one that lets me contact a server at home to check security cameras, heating system, etc. It's the first thing to go down in France.

Thanks in anticipation.

Geoffrey (HyFy)

barryd 05-07-2019 11:47

Ive found Vodafone to be pretty good in France, excellent in fact. On my last four month trip I sought assurances from them that I would not be cut off after two months of usage out of the UK on their forum because it does state buried in their T&Cs that this "could" happen, I think its probably the same for all providers but one of their advisers stated it would be fine and it was. Im not sure what I pay, its not much. About twelve quid a month I think for unlimited calls, texts and 18gb of Data per month all of which can be used abroad on the phone or as a hot spot. Some providers I think lower your data allowance if your roaming.

raynipper 05-07-2019 12:33

I can't answer about 'Three' but generally in rural France I have found all my mobile phone carriers have been pretty pathetic. sfr, Bouygues, Free, Toggle, etc.
Unless you get into large towns or good elevation it's 1 or 2 bars.
When mobile I keep an eye out for water towers (chateaux d'eau) as many are used to 'house' antenna for the mobile companies. You will usually get a good signal being in sight of one.


barryd 05-07-2019 18:48

I think it will boil down to who your provider has an alliance / agreement with. If its a wide range of providers then you stand a much better chance of getting a signal. Here I am locked to Vodafone so its patchy out in the sticks where I am but in Rural France it will just lock onto whichever provider has the best signal and there seems to be a fair bit of choice. Seems to work well for me.

Mrplodd 05-07-2019 21:57

I have a Three Mifi and rarely have a problem getting a (data only) signal in France.

It might be worth going into your phones settings and making sure it’s set up to automatically use the best available signal rather than be “locked” to a single provider.

I also use my BT mobile phone as a “hot spot” to tether my iPad to when in France. The phone uses whatever provider it’s allowed to to get the best signal.


HyFy 05-07-2019 22:24

Thanks for that Andy.

The phone settings are OK. The Three "Add-ons" get you the check that automatically. It just hops between one rubbish signal and another (usually BouyGtel). Last year we went two days from the Spanish border passed Narbonne and Clermont-Ferrand and almost to Tours before getting a usable data signal. I complained but was given the usual guff: "We can't control the coverage in France." "Oh - yes you can. You can use better contractors." But of course that would cost more. I'd rather pay more and get a signal I can use than otherwise. That is why I'm asking the question: "Are there other reasonable options?" I can see me going back to using a local SIM. I think that I can remember my local address from a few years back!!!


Geoffrey (HyFy)(another former MrPlodd)

Mrplodd 05-07-2019 22:30

That does seem odd because. Like I said, I get very good date coverage all over France with my Three Huawei Mifi device AND via my (ancient) Huawei mobile phone which is on the BT network.


P.s. I retired 14 years ago after doing my 30!

HyFy 05-07-2019 22:39

As you say, it seems odd that I don't get the same experience.


P.S. It has been 23 years since I got so fed up with the bosses who seemed more worried about which Caribbean Island they were going to be Chief of Police of as opposed to supporting me and those I was responsible for that I gave up after 25. It's a good job I could afford to give up the difference in pension!! (I don't think). But we survive!!

peribro 05-07-2019 22:42

Three switched partner networks in France a few years ago I recall and there was a noticeable deterioration in 3G speed and connectivity. I think 3 users effectively go to the bottom of the queue for decent connections on their partner networks in France.

I was in various places in rural south of France last September and had no problem with the partner networks that EE uses - had a good 3G and 4G signal most of the time.

HyFy 05-07-2019 23:08

I think that you may have the answer.

Does EE = BT? Everything at home = BT so maybe I speak to them.


Geoffrey (HyFy)

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