Arcep, policeman of the neutrality of the internet


Linked to the economic and technical functioning of the Internet, the two activities – interconnection and data routing – are sources of conflict between the various actors involved, access providers, content services and transit operators. The French subsidiaries of the American operators AT & T and Verizon challenged this initiative announced by the regulatory authority in March 2012. In order to ensure its role as arbitrator, Arcep received the approval of the State Council. It is therefore entitled to expect electronic communications operators, subject to an obligation to report to the regulatory authority to carry out their activity on the national territory, that they provide a semi-annual statement of their interconnection data. . In addition, Arcep reserves the right to occasionally apply the same request to operators established abroad, as long as they interact with operators in the French market, as well as to online service providers accessible in France. This approach is unprecedented in the world of telecom regulation.

Supported thus in the exercise of its mission of settlement of the conflicts between actors of Net, the Arcep proved right, at the end of July 2013, to the provider of access Free, in conflict for many months with the platform video YouTube ( see REM n ° 24, p.10). In order to solve the problems of congestion during rush hours on the network, which is the first victim, Google, owner of the video platform, refused to pay more for the necessary increase in interconnection capacity, while Free responded in January 2013, blocking the delivery of advertising, including those transmitted by the advertising agency Google, with software installed on the boxes of its subscribers. Noting thatthe inter-connection capabilities of Free, as is the case for all Internet service providers […] are congested during peak hours “, thus affecting all the websites that go through the same that YouTube, ” without distinction of nature, origin or destinationArcep found that the provider Free had not violated the principle of neutrality of the Internet, according to which the contents and the services must be conveyed without discrimination. In terms of traffic management, different cases of this exist. Thus, the French video sharing platform DailyMotion ensures the quality of the routing of its contents to the subscribers of Free passing through an intermediate operator, Neo Telecom. At the end of 2013, Arcep will publish the first conclusions of its observatory of the quality of the service delivered by the fixed Internet access providers.

In its draft revision of the European regulation called “telecoms package”, presented on 12 September 2013, the European Commission defines the neutrality of the internet as ” the obligation for internet service providers to provide an unhindered connection to the Internet”. all content, applications or services accessed by end-users, while regulating the use of traffic management measures by operators in terms of general Internet access. At the same time, the legal framework for specialized services is clarified“. In order to guarantee users access to an open internet, regardless of the cost or speed provided by their subscription, the European Commission wants to prohibit the blocking and limitation of content and services. However, it allows operators to practice ” reasonable traffic management “, in a ” transparent and non-discriminatory ” way, for reasons of security or to decongest access to the network.

The European Commission wants companies to always be able to provide ” guaranteed quality of service specialized services “, such as Internet TV ( IPTV ), video-on-demand, medical imaging applications and services. Cloud computing, but without degrading it ” in a recurring or continuous way»The quality of access to the internet in its entirety. Consumers will be able to denounce their contract if an access provider does not guarantee them the speed of the promised flow. Service publishers generating large amounts of data, such as YouTube and Facebook, will be able to enter into agreements with operators to be distributed on a reserved access channel, with defined quality in terms of volume or throughput. In addition, operators will have to ensure equal treatment between their own services and those of their competitors.

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