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Unmasked: Euro ISPs raided in downloads strangle probe

Investigated after internet slowdown claims by US giant

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Three internet providers raided by European g-men probing allegations of throttled download speeds have been named.

The officials burst uninvited into the head offices of Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefonica, which operates O2 in the UK, as part of an investigation into alleged anticompetitive behaviour.

The trio are accused of limiting the speed of global internet traffic passing through their network from a US rival, while allowing their own packets of data to flow at full speed.

Typically, ISPs and other companies that distribute web content - such as Cogent - agree to share the burden of the world's internet traffic fairly and squarely in so-called peering agreements.

The European Commission began the data throttling probe earlier this month, but did not name the three firms it raided. News agency Reuters was later able to confirm which telcos were targeted.

If found guilty of anticompetitive behaviour, the Euro trio could be fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover.

A complaint from international internet provider Cogent, which based in the US, sparked the investigation. It claimed the three ISPs deliberately throttled the speed of internet transfers so that people using its services experienced slower downloads than expected.

Orange and Telefonica have said they are cooperating with the commission, while Deutsche Telekom has not yet commented. Deutsche Telekom and Orange confirmed the raid took place.

Cogent chief executive and founder Dave Schaeffer said its customers' quality of service suffered because the connections between its networks and those of the accused ISPs were overloaded.

"These telcos have refused to upgrade the capacity of the interconnections, resulting in poor quality of service to our customers and theirs," he said.

His firm does not have issues with any other ISPs on the Continent. "We have good relationships with many operators in Europe, including Telenor, KPN and Belgacom," he continued.

In a separate dispute last year, Cogent accused Orange France of overcharging for carrying internet data - but a regulator in the European country sided with Orange and said it was allowed to ask for more money given the amount of traffic passing through its network. ®

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