SFR launches prepaid mobile Internet access

If, like me, you hate long-term mobile phone subscriptions, you will be pleased to hear that a French mobile operator, SFR (a subsidiary of Vivendi), is allowing customers to purchase data plans on a prepaid basis. If you live in France, you do not have to sign up for one- or two-year contracts.

SFR has begun offering a subscription-free pack with a 3G+ USB key and a SimCard for €69 with no subscription obligation (SFR will reimburse €30 after a certain period of time). Once connected to a computer, the key is automatically activated. The user can buy different levels of credits, starting at €3 for 20 minutes in a 24h period. Other plans are: 1 hour of connection over a 15 day period for €7; 3 hours of connection over a 15 day period for €16; 8 hours of connection over a 15 day period for €26. You can also buy a full 24 hour connection credit for one day only for €9 – not bad!  The credits can be bought either by phone or on the Web.

SFR has also adjusted its monthly tariffs for subscription based connections with the 3G+ Mobile Pack based on 24 months. A subscription for 3 hours per month now costs €10 per month. It costs €20 per month for 6 hours and €30 for 12 hours per month. The extra minute is €0.15 once the limit has been reached.

SFR was the first in France to launch a 3G key in July 2007 allowing laptop users to access Internet anywhere. SFR mobile subscribers are able to connect their laptops to the SFR 3G cellular network through a USB key to surf the web. On December 2008, SFR had sold 140,000 of these 3G+ USB keys. Orange-France Télécom and Bouygues have followed SFR in making similar offers. The tariffs are fairly expensive because they are set up on an hourly basis and all the operators have capped the amount of content downloaded to prevent overload of their networks. They also block VoIP calls. All three operators also subsidize the USB key for a 12 or 24 month contracts. It is nothing more that putting a SimCard in a cellular modem for 3G+ access  at 3.6 Mbps maximum, in theory. The real bandwidth for download is more often between 0.5 to 1 Mbps.


  1. hi, i might be moving to france , now what i need to know,this 3G+ USB key is it a sim card to insert into your cell/mobile phone, please explain,
    i live in south africa

    thanks cathy

  2. You should go to the SFR website and check on this offering. I am sure they have a photo of the key.

  3. I plan on going to Ile-de-France area (Paris and surroundings) this summer and am planning on using large quantities of data: some 200 to 500MB a day.
    This put me to the hard task of researching the limited availability of large data-packs with French operators, as I want to use this data on the move, not by having to connect to WiFi networks.

    After the research I concluded SFR’s prepaid deal is the best choice and I came across this guide explaining all about the service (in French)..

    I’m still left with a couple of questions, though, and would like the input of people who actually use this plan..

    – If I were to purchase this simcard/3g-stick deal, what do I need to bring to the shop?

    – I plan on using the 9€/day unlimited data option. As I don’t have a creditcard by choice, I want to buy my access in the shop or at a tabac or kiosk..
    a. Do I need to buy ‘la carte’ prepaid cards at €10 a piece or are there special vouchers for the dataplan I want to use?
    b. In case I need to use ‘la carte’ €10 top-up cards, how do I use my balance to convert it to the data plan of 9€ for unlimited access ’till midnight?
    c. Can I top up the balance or dataplan through a website, sms or calling an automated hotline? Once again, I don’t want to use a credit card.

    – Can I use the simcard outside of the USB dongle? I want to do a lot of mobile internet on my simlock-free cellphone (about 3/4 of my total daily amount of data)

    Would love some input on this!

  4. FumingSFRcustomer says

    My experiences with the SFR prepaid internet have been atrocious. Firstly, other countries throughout Europe offer pre paid internet based on data usage – not time connected, which makes a lot more sense. SFR ask you to send a copy of your i.d. by mail after purchase, and close your line if you don’t – but this info is given only in French. After recharging my account twice using my credit card online, I was not allowed to recharge a third time. Reason SFR gave? They impose a €60 per month online recharge limit – but they couldn’t explain why. SFR advised me to buy credit from kiosks. After recharging for two consecutive days with the €9 “All day” pass, my account was suspended. Reason SFR gave? I had recharged with the “all day” offer too often, and
    that was why my account was suspended! They imposed a 24 hour suspension and told me to use the other offers as the all day pass would “sometimes” suspend my line – though they couldn’t explain why.
    Customer service over here is a joke.

  5. Interested French Holidayer. says

    How can this service be connected? I want to give it a try but cannot find it on the SFR website. Can anybody help?

    Thank you.