A move by Free, a France-based telecommunications services provider, to upgrade all its users with ad blocking features is expected to cause outcry among companies providing free content as the move is likely to eat into their revenue.
Free’s move is likely to send online advertising companies like Google to the drawing board as their business model, which involves delivering free content in return for providing Web pages with paid advertisements, is threatened.
Already, the company is in the process of upgrading 5.2 million customers’ accounts with ad blocking features as a default setting — a development that has drawn in intervention from French minister for Digital Economy to intervene.
Spiil, an association for online publishers in France, has already condemned the move saying Internet access providers lack the authority to dictate what their subscribers’ access.
The development is also seen as a continuation of a dispute that failed to be addressed during the last international telecommunication talks in Dubai late last year which wanted to force content providers to pay for the delivery of content.
Other analysts however look at the move as a quest to attack Google with Free’s owner Xavier Neil having complained that the online advertiser and its YouTube library consume too much of his company’s bandwidth.
“The pipelines between Google and us are full at certain hours, and no one wants to take responsibility for adding capacity. It’s a classic problem that happens everywhere, but especially with Google,” Neil told newsmagazine Nouvel Observateur during an interview last year.
To others, this is just a case of the low cost company protecting itself with increased bandwidth usage likely to drive its cost up.
“There are today real questions about the sharing of value between the content providers notably in video, which uses a lot of bandwidth and the operators,” Digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin.
This new challenge from Europe will complicate Google’s position facing off another rebellion in South America where 150 newspapers have pulled out of Google to protest a reduction of their revenue as a result of Google News.