Google videos without the ads, anyone? — But only in France

xaFor a while, Internet subscribers of French ISP Free – could watch GooTube videos and use Google  for, well, free,which is to say without being forced to see all those pesky ads.

That was because French internet billionaire and  ISP owner Xavier Niel had upgraded the software on  his modems, says the Calgary Herald

“Online ads were blocked by default. The move, which was aimed chiefly at Google, caused a massive rumpus,” it says, pointing out in 2011 Google spent more than $130 million on a grand 19th-century headquarters in Paris,  “that looks a little like the Elysee Palace, the official home of the president”.

But, the story continues, “That may have been a mistake because Google’s  “deep coffers attracted the attention of Niel, an entrepreneur who  “delights in making pots of money at the expense of the establishment.”

The giant American online advertising firm, “reportedly had been in negotiations with Free over whether to pay the ISP directly for the connection to its subscribers, ” says Herald:.

On the the European Net, ISPs such as Free cover their costs by charging subscribers rather than content providers, but Google is  “accustomed to grumbles by ISPs that it does not contribute directly to the cost of their networks,”  says the story.

Google is also used to  “governments, such as China’s, blocking its services for political reasons,”  it continues.

“Never, though, has it faced an attack of this type from a private company says the story, going on Free was “threatening to damage Google’s advertising-driven business model in France”.

”Niel few of his five million-odd customers would leave simply because the default settings deprived them of Google’s ads. “Default settings are easy to change, after all.

(Not only but also,  does anyone actually pay attention  to ads posted by Google, or anyone else?)

Free also is suspected of deliberately choking off its subscribers’ connection to YouTube during peak hour, says the story, adding.

“YouTube occupies a great deal of bandwidth on the Internet, especially because more people are choosing to watch Gangnam Style and Dumb Ways to Die in high definition. The telecommunications regulator is investigating.

“Last year Niel responded to the accusations by pointing out that many YouTube videos can in any case be watched on Dailymotion, a video-sharing website that happens to be French and partly owned by the government.

“Advertisers and newspaper websites immediately cried foul and got the government to lean on Free to remove the ad block, which it did on Jan. 8. Supporters of network neutrality, the idea that the Internet’s tubes should treat all packets of data in exactly the same way, regardless of origin, denounced Free for trampling on web freedom.

and despite the government’s involvement in ending the block,  “Niel may have its tacit support for his move against Google, it states, adding.:

“France is already investigating whether the company pays much less tax than it should, because it charges French advertisers from its headquarters in Ireland. Free’s strike at Google may even give the hungry Finance Ministry ideas about how to force it to pay more taxes, says Cedric Manara, a professor of internet law at EDHEC, a French business school.

“French newspapers, too, are trying to force Google to pay them for referencing their content. This week Fleur Pellerin, France’s digital minister, backed Free and said that there are real questions about how web firms contribute to the financing of networks. There will be a government debate on the subject on Jan. 15.

“Many people expect the fight to continue well after that. The stakes are high. and if Google caves in to Free in France, by paying high fees to reach its subscribers,  “it would face calls to do the same elsewhere. Google can argue that the only reason why ISPs such as Free have a business model at all is that people want the content that Google and other companies provide.

“Niel will be loth to raise more revenue by charging subscribers more when cheapness is his selling point. Free’s launch of a cheap mobile-telephone service last year had a spectacular impact on the French market, notes Francois Godard of Enders Analysis, a research firm. The average price of all French mobile-telephone calls fell by nearly a fifth as millions of people flocked to his new product.

“For this he is heartily disliked by rival French telecommunications bosses.

“If he can win against Google, though, they’ll be “toasting him with champagne.”

Jon Newton — myblogdammit

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