France has backed off measures to make Internet giants like Facebook (News - Alert) pay for broadband infrastructure burdens in the country.
“What solutions do Internet providers have when faced with content providers who use their networks but don't invest in them?" Fleur Pellerin, junior minister for the digital economy in the country, told the Associated Press (News - Alert).
“We need to ask serious questions about how Web companies can put some money into networks," Pellerin added.
The proposed pits Internet companies and Internet activists against the country’s Socialist government. The Internet companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix argue that they already bear the brunt of bandwidth costs. Google has signed deals with two major broadband providers, Cogent and France Telecom (News - Alert), to provide bandwidth for the search giant.
The government argues that the companies drive heavy traffic over the country’s telecom infrastructure without paying for the development and upkeep of the network.
Internet activists also oppose the government action because it would create a two-tiered Internet, with the big companies getting faster and better Internet than everyone else, violating net neutrality principles, that no one entity on the Internet should have an advantage over the other.
The debate was also ignited by broadband provider Iliad’s blocking of online advertisements over its network earlier in January. Iliad later backed away from the measure.
The outcry has caused the government to shelve its plan to force Web companies to pay the costs of network congestion that the popular sites place on broadband networks.
Pellerin has asked France’s National Digital Council, a consortium of Internet industry experts, to evaluate the proposed plan. Their decision is expected to be released in late February.
Only three other nations have passed laws regarding net neutrality: the Netherlands, Chile and Slovenia. Most countries prefer to leave such matters to be worked out between Web content producers and network providers.
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Edited by Rich Steeves