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The Broadband Service of My Dreams

Yesterday when I checked my mail, I found my box full of flyers advertising all sorts of things I don’t need. I was planning to toss it all, but one flyer caught my eye. It said (in French): “Fiber arrives in your neighborhood! 100 Mbps Internet, high-definition TV, telephone: 100% fiber.” Oh yes. I do need that.

Now, I’ve got to point out that here in Paris, as in most of metropolitan Europe, broadband service as a whole is both faster and cheaper (for what you get) than what’s commonly available in the United States. Several different French companies offer DSL service (including VoIP phone and standard-def TV) with downstream bandwidth as high as 28 Mbps and upstream bandwidth at around 1 Mbps, for around 30 euros (about $48) per month. I’ve been pretty happy with one such service, provided by Free.

But this new service – wow, this really gets my heart pumping. Telecom provider Orange (the same company that currently has exclusive iPhone distribution rights in France) now offers, in selected areas, an all-fiber service with 100 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up, for 45 euros (about $72) per month. For an additional 20 euros ($32) per month, you can opt for symmetrical 100 Mbps service up and down. Other extras (like a static IP address) are available for an additional fee.

Orange is marketing this service primarily to people who want to consume massive amounts of downloaded or streamed HD video content (“Legally download an 800 MB video in one minute!”), but the service also appeals to people who do lots of intensive gaming, photo sharing, or – my special area of interest – online backups.

I recently had occasion to replace the entire 60 GB or so of data I’m storing at CrashPlan Central; even with my relatively speedy connection, the whole process has taken more than a week. If I’d had the new Orange fiber service, I could have copied all that data in hours – nearly as fast as I’m currently copying it over my local Ethernet network to another Mac that’s also functioning as a backup server.

My point is, I’m all excited about this service because it potentially removes my last big complaint about online backups – that, as I’ve said repeatedly, even with a very fast broadband connection, your backups will take forever.

But first things first. Morgen and I will be moving to a new apartment in a couple of months, so it wouldn’t make sense to subscribe before then. Also, if we wanted to take advantage of the high-def video service, we’d have to buy a high-def TV (something that’s on our list of things we’d theoretically like to own some day). Oh, and by then, Orange will probably be tempting me with a 3G iPhone (a temptation I may or may not be strong enough to resist), and I do need to have a bit of money left for, you know, food.

Still. 100 Mbps up and down at home. Way cool.

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