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.

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Companies: cogent, france telecom, free, google, youtube

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Comments on “France Telecom Accused Of Holding YouTube Videos Hostage Unless It Gets More Money”

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26 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Michael (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

cybearDJM (profile) says:

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…

JustObserving says:

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?

Another Anonymous Coward says:

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

Jim Crowe says:

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….

Adrian Lopez says:

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.

Another Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Adrian Lopez says:

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.

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