State Council confirms Arcep’s power to observe net neutrality

11 Jul 2013

France’s State Council has confirmed the jurisdiction of the regulator Arcep to collect information on the technical and pricing terms of the interconnection and routing of data and examine all market players, regardless of their country of origin. According to the watchdog’s press release, the State Council confirmed that Arcep was entitled to collect information from ISPs and providers of public online communication services (PPOCS) and validated the authority of the regulator to interview all network operators, including the ones located outside the European Union (EU), since their activities can have a significant impact on internet users in France. The Council also announced that the collection of data conducted by Arcep was necessary and proportionate to the authority given to Arcep by law. The landmark decision, which reportedly establishes Arcep as the only regulator to have such authority, was prompted after Arcep’s decision to collect information on interconnection and routing of data was challenged by the US carriers AT&T and Verizon and their French subsidiaries in April 2013.

In a separate but connected development, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in January 2013 the French competition watchdog Autorite de la Concurrence backed a decision by Orange France to begin throttling access to online video services such as YouTube as part of a peering dispute with Google and its internet backbone provider Cogent Communications; Orange Group wanted Cogent to pay for the additional traffic being generated by streaming video services. The watchdog’s decision on the litigation is expected be rendered in the near future, and the State Council’s ruling will reportedly play a role in the outcome.

France, Arcep, Orange Group