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The service became available in metropolitan Paris in December 1983.

In February 2009, France Telecom indicated the Minitel network still had 10 million monthly connections.

In the late 1990s, Minitel connections were stable at 100 million a month plus 150 million online directory inquiries, in spite of growing Internet use.

In 1998, Minitel generated €832 million ($1,121 million) of revenue, of which €521 million was channelled by France Télécom to service providers.

By distributing terminals that could access a nationwide electronic directory of telephone and address information, it hoped to increase use of the country's 23 million phone lines, and reduce the costs of printing printed phone books and employing directory assistance personnel.

Millions of terminals were lent for free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public.

The Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines, and is considered one of the world's most successful pre-World Wide Web online services.

The service was rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany and throughout France in 1982 by the PTT (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones; divided since 1991 between France Télécom and La Poste).

Companies could add up to 3 lines of complementary information and a "prehistoric" website.