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Orange boasts: We made Google PAY US for traffic

Some packets are more neutral than others ...

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France Telecom-Orange is making a wad of cash from Google, the company's CEO boasted in an interview with French media yesterday.

Talking to BFM Business TV, CEO Stephane Richard didn't give an exact figure on the payments made to France Telecom-Orange by the search giant for delivery of its content, beyond admitting that its not "hundreds of millions". However, he admits that the the telco is being paid to deliver traffic for the search giant and claims that the dominance of Orange in Africa has provided leverage for the the firm to negotiate the best financial arrangement with the Chocolate Factory.

Companies such as Google routinely get involved in telecoms infrastructure, running their own private networks which tap directly into ISPs, so someone viewing a YouTube clip is very unlikely to be touching the public internet at all - the data will be coming over Google's private network and into their ISP to the benefit of everyone, except alternative video providers whose content will arrive later.

Even Amazon has its own network these days - AWS Direct Connect plugs the Amazon cloud directly into your office. Meanwhile companies like Akamai cache internet content all over the world for their paying customers.

All of this makes a mockery of net neutrality, but that's old news, what's interesting here is Google paying actual money to France Telecom-Orange for the delivery of its data, which apparently now constitutes half of that consumed France Telecom-Orange customers around the world.

"They pay us for the traffic that they send," the company reaffirmed to El Reg when we checked, saying that the deal had been in place for at least a year and that the money is spent maintaining the network, implicitly ensuring that customers get quick access to Google content.

Telcos have long said that Google and its ilk should be paying them to expedite delivery, and in the US Google managed to get (net neutrality) legislation passed, making it illegal to prioritise traffic, but Europe has been slower to jump to the Googleplex tune, so paying for access is easier.

We've asked Google how this fits in with the public campaign that all packets be treated equal, but haven't had a response yet, so it seems that equality is great just as long as some packets are more equal than others. ®

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