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If the FCC attempts to set peering prices, why can’t the EU?

By 23 December 2010 4 Comments

Bloomberg reports that the French want Google to pay more money for YouTube bandwidth for the costs that they are incurring on French Internet infrastructure, but this is every bit as misguided as those who argue that server bandwidth should be free and that the FCC should intervene in the peering dispute.  Whatever agreements are in place today that allows Google reach French broadband consumers by paying for Internet transit service or peering service was set by the market place.

If the French government or carriers don’t like it, too bad unless the French government wants to enact a tax on Google YouTube bits or anything else originating from the US, and I would think that would raise questions of fair trade.  But the fact is, Google is already paying to operate in Europe.  They pay European Internet Exchanges to host their servers or they’re building data centers in Europe and employing Europeans.

Furthermore, the YouTube content being delivered to Europeans is not being served from the United States even if the original copy came from the US.  I would also venture to guess that a lot of the content being watched by the French came from French YouTube users.  The French are probably watching French people doing stupid tricks just like Americans like to watch Americans (and their pets) doing stupid things.

But where are the French getting the idea that it’s OK to intervene in the Internet?  Perhaps they’re looking at American regulators?  If the American government (the FCC) can try to set or influence peering and transit prices, why shouldn’t the European government do the same only in a way that favors European companies?  If American regulators can determine what to ban on the Internet as “hate speech”, is it that much different from the Chinese government banning speech they consider a danger to their national security?  That’s the danger of American government intervention as it invites other governments to intervene in the Internet.