Net neutrality: French telcos hope to gain from new web traffic rules

14 Apr 2010

As the debate on so-called ‘net neutrality’ kicks off in France this week, the country’s main telecoms operators are reportedly hoping to realise a financial benefit from new plans to regulate web traffic, Reuters reports. With the new regime set to come into force possibly as soon as the summer, the issue of net neutrality is set to spark a fierce contest between the likes of France Telecom (FT) and Bouygues Telecom – which effectively want to segment the market by offering premium services to consumers who want quicker access or to use large amounts of data – and web search engine firms such as Google and Amazon – which believe in the free, equal and transparent movement of network traffic. FT chief executive Stephane Richard sees it as an issue of who exactly makes money from the internet – the telcos which build and maintain the infrastructure or the companies providing content and services over it. ‘Internet should be neutral and open but also fair,’ Richard said, ‘It should not just be a theatre where a certain number of global internet companies escape regulation and capture all the value.’ Meanwhile, Bouygues’ deputy CEO Emmanuel Forest, is calling for ‘prudent’ regulation, noting that the key question is how ‘to find ways for companies that create content to contribute to the investment in networks.’

France, Bouygues Telecom, Orange Group