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France Telecom Accused Of Holding YouTube Videos Hostage Unless It Gets More Money

from the more-peering-disputes dept

An interesting post from broadband news reporter Dave Burstein argues that anti-trust regulators in France may have basically enabled France Telecom to hold YouTube videos hostage unless Google backbone partner, Cogent, pays more money:
Millions of French netizens discover their YouTube streams sputter and die or never begin in the first place. Other video services, including TF1, are also struggling. The effect varies, sometimes randomly and sometimes by time of day. Respected consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir found between 20% and 50% of users surveyed online had problems.

Again, the existing connection remains and much of the traffic gets through. But Net traffic always grows and without regularly adding additional capacity many - not all - streams are blocked. French networks, with France Telecom in the lead, are refusing to accept growing traffic from Cogent, a major backbone carrier that services Google. They demand payment to accept all the streams their customers request. The independent French competition authority (Autorite de la concurrence) on September 20 approved the charging plan, leaving no doubt this is neutrality dispute.
The details suggest that this isn't so much a "neutrality" issue as a peering dispute. In fact, it actually sounds somewhat similar to the Level 3 / Comcast dispute from a few years back. In that case, Level 3 was providing service to Netflix, and Comcast worried about the big influx of traffic. Comcast (like France Telecom) demanded that Level 3 pay up for delivering it extra traffic. The bit that's interesting here is that French regulators got involved and said that this was legal in this case, though they're worried about the lack of transparency.

Of course all this does is show, yet again, how the internet's interconnectivity through peering arrangements is increasingly under pressure as certain broadband players become more powerful. And, unfortunately, the public (and their YouTube videos) may be at risk.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    Problems

    Respected consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir found between 20% and 50% of users surveyed online had problems

    The other 50-80% only partially completed the online survey before their connections dropped, so they weren't counted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 10:06am

    i wonder if multiple complaints from users would have any effect? maybe those that introduced or allowed this to be introduced would change their minds now seeing the impact stupidity has had?

    sorry. went off into cloud cuckoo land for a couple of minutes!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 10:07am

    If traffic from Cogent to France Telecom is much heaver than traffic from France Telecom to Cogent, it is only because France Telecom's customers requested that traffic.

    Shouldn't France Telecom be going after it's own users instead of Cogent to collect enough revenue to maintain its infrastructure to which France Telecom's customers are directly connected?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Ant to solution is ...

    to let France go. Once they disappear completely off the web, they will serve as grim example to any other greedy country that wants to act equal the nutter as France that this behavior will be met with Internet extinction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Tech42 (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    New ISP?

    This sounds like a golden opportunity for any ISP willing to carry YouTube traffic to its customers.
    They'd siphon away France Telecom's subscribers in a heartbeat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    They want it both ways. Customers pay them to access the internet, the internet pays them to allow their customers access. Sounds like another fine example of the problems with telco monopolies. If these guy have any competitors I imagine the rats(hehe, french people) will be jumping ship soon.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    Ok, so lets talk hypothetical.

    Google refuses to pay and eventually just doesn't service France at all. Even then the internet traffic won't go away people will just connect to different services and bog down the french networks on a different pipe.

    Either they invest in better infrastructure or disconnect france from the rest of the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Michael, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:16am

    Re: Ant to solution is ...

    We get to keep their toast though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    cybearDJM, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:19am

    2nd French ISP to "block" YouTube

    France Telecom (historical FR telco monopoly...) is the 2nd operator to block or limit access to YouTube videos.
    Free (the once alternative ISP breaking the rules, that just released an adblocker directly in the box) has been reported for months by its users to do the same.

    Following the newspapers (and the "pay for links"), they're all after Google in a way or an other, requesting more money to stop their declining business models...

    A pity or a shame, can't say yet...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    JustObserving, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:21am

    A push for tiered pricing?

    A couple questions with questions come to mind.

    If the local ISP doesn't have the bandwidth to handle the large loads on their network:

    - what prevents them from upgrading?

    - what prevents them from innovating? e.g. why can't France Telecom work with Google or others to "house" data closer to the consumer? - Is this youtube/google saying no or France Telecom saying no to efficiency?

    - is a lock in to a current business model preventing alternative business models from moving forward?

    Is this a move from ISPs (we already know the answer) to push for data caps, tiered pricing and mint money based on poorly designed and implemented business models?

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Ant to solution is ...

    In France, French toast is called "lost bread" (pain perdu). They lost it, we found it, we get to keep it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    What really gets me is that customers are paying the ISPs to provide connectivity to all content. So only in the situation where they have a monopoly do the ISPs have enough leverage to get away with something like this.

    If there were even two choices (assuming they aren't colluding on such things) pissing off their customers by blocking content they are requesting over they connection they paid for, is likely to make them go elsewhere. Which would in turn decrease the amount of traffic said peering provider sends them. Basically under any competition at all, their actions would be lose/lose.

    This sort of a move strikes me as extremely short sighted even for a monopoly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Michael, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ant to solution is ...

    The French get a lot of abuse, so I don't like to pick on them, but really? "lost bread"?

    How do you order that?

    Me: I'd like the lost bread, please.
    Waitress: Umm...we don't know where it is.
    Me: But I'd like some.
    Waitress: Sorry, if we find it, we will bring it to you.
    Me: Isn't it just bread if you have found it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Adrian Lopez, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Peering vs Transmitting

    Mike,

    Do you know for a fact that a peering arrangement between Cogent and France Telecom is involved? It's not a peering arrangement unless each of them is effectively the other's customer with respect to network access.

    An ISP can't tap into another ISP's network without permission. If each of them has a direct connection to the other (that is, they are peers), then any dispute between them is a contractual issue. If, on the other hand, there's a third ISP between them, that makes it a neutrality issue and not a peering arrangement issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ant to solution is ...

    Indeed! Well, "lost bread" is a case of the translation not really getting the meaning across. The dish is a way of making a meal out of stale bread that would otherwise be thrown away, thus it is "lost" bread.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Rekrul, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 1:16am

    By this logic, shouldn't the ISPs be paying their customers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Another Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 10:02am

    Peering vs Paying

    This is really a simple matter. If one network uses similar amount of resources of another network it is called peering. If another network utilizes substantially more resources, then it should be a Paid relationship. The way traffic flows, the costs of carrying traffic are on the receiving network. Therefore an imbalance of sending traffic should become a paid relationship. The Internet has historically worked this way and how growth is funded.

    This also naturally balances out the ecosystem costs and makes sure people don't manipulate the system by bouncing between ISPs each month, inefficiently driving and abandoning infrastructure/interconnect costs for ISPs.

    As far as "customers requesting the traffic", that is rhetoric used by CDN companies. In fact their customers are paying them to send the traffic and they are responsible to bear some of the network growth costs. What they want is to CHANGE THE INTERNET FINANCING MODEL by giving them free network costs. This is what is new... this is what the issue really is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Another Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 10:03am

    Re:

    It is about infrastructure imbalance... not traffic imbalance

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Another Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    Re: A push for tiered pricing?

    This is about unlimited free vs compensation for dedicated infrastructure. The ISP would have to put in capital, space and power to accommodation either network or space for the 3rd party gear. Why wouldn't Google be willing to compensate ISPs for that.

    Same thing goes with peering.. if the relationship is fair and balanced that is peering... if it is highly imbalanced as far as network investment, their should be some basic compensation.

    The other challenge is the massive changes that can take place. Content these days only comes from a few CDNs. Their ability to shift the path and performance of their traffic can cause massive investment requirements and disruption. Suddenly using Cogent this month, Level 3 the next and off to Telia after that. Each change becomes a "peering dispute" due to the cost to enable these moves. Peering/Transit Arbitrage is bad for the Internet at these scales.

    This is NOT Net Neutrality... It is a cost shifting designed to drive ISPs to bear all future cost of transit growth away from CDNs and major content sources

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Jim Crowe, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: A push for tiered pricing?

    Ah! So it is refusing to purchase dedicated capacity vs refusing to give free dedicated capacity. All depends on how it is spun.

    FT saying Cogent needs to pay for the increase / imbalanced demand vs having their original balanced "free" relationship.

    Cogent seems to get in these spats alot. Cogent vs Sprint, Cogent vs Level 3, Cogent vs Teleglobe, and prior FT issues....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Adrian Lopez, Jan 6th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Network Growth Costs

    "As far as 'customers requesting the traffic', that is rhetoric used by CDN companies. In fact their customers are paying them to send the traffic and they are responsible to bear some of the network growth costs."

    CDN companies already bear some of the network growth costs by paying the various ISPs who offer connectivity to them. The idea that CDN companies aren't paying their fair share is nothing less than complete bullshit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Surely if customers want to get to YouTube, the ISP could offer a bundle with fast YouTube speeds and charge those customers accordingly. By charging those customers, that would pay for the interconnect upgrade? Net neutrality obviously, clearly must include the end user in the cost model.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Adrian Lopez, Jan 6th, 2013 @ 3:02pm

    Re:

    That would violate network neutrality. You're not supposed to charge extra for premium access to specific services.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re:

    Voutuob

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    ruben, Mar 26th, 2013 @ 3:40am

    neutrality dispute

    higher level of thinking!! this particular dispute refers to the transparency of the net traffic, which destroys not only the usage but also the popularity. as it is rightly said-excess of everything is bad! so this phrase is similar to this problem. there should not be an immense of internet usage and hence the work.

    ruben

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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