Google paying Orange for traffic

Dylan Bushell-Embling
22 Jan 2013
Daily News

Industry watchers are abuzz pondering the implications of the news that France Telecom-Orange has convinced Google to pay to send traffic over its networks.

Orange CEO Stephane Richard slipped in the information that Google is paying it for transit during a recent French TV interview.

While Richard did not elaborate on the financial terms of the arrangement, a company spokesperson told theRegister that a deal has been in place for at least a year.

The company's disclosure has sparked a flurry of speculation over what the arrangement means for Google's espoused net neutrality principles, and whether it may set a precedent for other markets and content providers.

An oft-quoted statistic in the discussions is that Google now accounts for more than half of the traffic on Orange's network.

As Forbespoints out, Orange believes its strong market position in the emerging smartphone markets of Africa gave it the leverage needed to convince Google to play ball, as it appears to have decided that building Android market share is more important than holding out.

GigaOM senior writer David Meyer suggests that Google's decision betrays its own net neutrality principles. He cites a 2006 quote from chairman Eric Schmidt complaining that “phone and cable monopolies...want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can’t pay.”

The agreement also sets a dangerous precedent for other internet content providers, Meyer said. Orange now has the incentive to demand similar agreements from other content companies, particularly “if Google is paying a carrier such as Orange to handle its traffic better than it might otherwise be handled.”

TelecomAsia contributor Rob Powell has meanwhile engaged in some informed speculation about the possible nature of the agreement. As Powell wrote on his blog Telecom Ramblings:

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