...Continued from page 1

From Our Friends

A little more help was obtained from France Telecom, which lent cable-modems to the community centres. Yves Machebeuf must be some sort of local dynamo because he's planning to have the high-speed modems installed in all community centres by the end of October.

France Telecom has been offering Internet access via cable in selected areas of the Ile-de-France and one or two Paris arrondissements for a short Arc du Carrousel in Tuileries while now - but not where I live. All I get from the cable are TV summer re-runs and FM radio.

The Arc du Carrousel in the Tuileries. Note that the Pyramind is not directly behind it, but to the left.

France Telecom apparently has plans to re-model its creaky old Minitel. The guessing is that the new one will contain a cable-modem, but this will be well-hidden behind an inoffensive low-tech name - so existing Minitel users will not realize there is a 'computer' inside it.

These units will cost a bit more to manufacture than the old crate so the question is - how much money will France Telecom ask for them, considering the existing Minitel hardware is free. The bean-counters are working on this problem now.

France is considered by some - within the country - to be woefully backwards when it comes to a question of being 'wired.' Yet six to ten million telephone subscribers willingly use the clunky old Minitel daily, without giving its technical backwardness much thought or thinking too much about its pay-per-use nature.

The fact is, Minitel is a goldmine - for France Telecom and for Minitel service providers. All users see is one bill, from France Telecom - without realizing that there are elementary Minitel services taking hundreds of thousands of 'hits' per month which are billed by the minute - which France Telecom splits with the independent service providers.

The sad part is the philosophy that nearly all access is pay-for-info or pay-to-see. Toll-free business numbers are rare in France, especially since companies and services discovered that they could be paid for providing commercial information to customers or clients. Some companies probably make more money off this than off whatever business it is they do.

You kind of know what you are getting into when you use the Minitel to consult the 'Madame Wigwam Astrology' service; but you might not when you are looking through the catalogue and placing an order with the 'MegaCon Catalogue' service. You might not even think twice about how much you are paying for the half-screen bitmap ads on every page either.

Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 1.23 - 29. July 1996 featured the columns - Metropole count-down eiffel 'Diary' - Industrious Industrial Tourists and 'Au Bistro' - Which Half of the Bottle is Full? Articles in the issue were: 'Paris As Bazaar - Low-end Sales With High-end Sights.' The second feature was ' Downtown Hideouts - Rest Areas for Heavy Plastic Users.' Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 2000:
Only 887 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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