France Telecom Charging Google for Access to "Orange" Network

January 22, 2013

Paris - Jan 22, 2013 - In May 2011 I wrote that France Telecom's wireless network ('Orange') wanted to start charging large content providers for access to its network. Why is this important? Simple: content providers that become too successful, and do not remain under the radar could be subject to that same expense later on.

So now I have read an article by David Meyer in GigaOM that says Google, arguably the largest and most successful content provider, is paying Orange for access. Quoting Meyer:


"This is really all about barriers to entry. If Google is paying a carrier such as Orange to handle its traffic better than it might otherwise be handled, then Orange has the incentive to demand the same from other content providers. Even if it does not, we hit the problem of telecoms network capacity being a zero-sum game - if it weren't, Orange wouldn't have any leverage here, short of blocking Google outright. In other words, Google has not only set a terrible precedent for up-and-coming mobile innovators, but it has also made it more likely that the quality of new services will be degraded over Orange's networks -- all so that the quality of Google's services can be maintained."

While I am an advocate of providing streaming content from radio stations, I have also frequently espoused my opinion that we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater; OTA broadcast is still our major means of reaching listeners, and generating revenue. That means of dissemination remains under our control; we're not beholden to the carriers in carrying out our business.

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