France Telecom, Telefónica push for content charging

Having voiced their disquiet in the past over heavyweight content providers abusing their broadband mobile data networks, France Telecom and Telefónica are starting to become more serious about charging for video traffic volumes. This move would seem to be aimed almost directly at YouTube, with operators claiming that their infrastructure is being inundated with video traffic directly from Google and others such as the BBC's iPlayer service.

Venting their annoyance at this growing problem, France Telecom and Telefónica have gone public by calling for reforms to current peering agreements between mobile operators and content providers. If successful, then firms such as Google could be called upon to make significant payments to affected operators.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Elie Girard, head of strategy at France Telecom, said: "Our current peering agreements are no longer viable. If the internet is to continue to develop sustainably, we need to set charges linked to the amount of traffic that goes through our networks."

Taking a firmer approach, Cesar Alierta, Telefónica's chairman, said: "All the peering agreements are going to change, which means [online content providers] will have to pay for traffic."

The proposal being made by the two European telcos calls for high-quality video data traffic passing through their networks to be charged on a wholesale basis. The deal could be built on the so-called peering system, which is where data is exchanged between one operator and another, albeit that little, if any, money changes hands today.

The issue was raised last month with Neelie Kroes, the commissioner for the European Union's digital agenda. With no consensus from this latest meeting, operators are placing their hopes that a EU report commissioned by Kroes will approve the proposal for charging content providers. The report is due to be published in July. However, the lack of public support from Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom is seen by observers as weakening the chance of a quick recommendation to move forward with charging content providers for traffic usage.

For more:
- see this Financial Times article

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