Stop unlimited internet contracts, official advisors suggest

Someone typing on a laptop computer. A government advisory council has suggested limiting data comsumption in France as an environmentally friendly measure.
The suggested measure would not block internet access but limit download capacity.

Stopping unlimited internet contracts has been put forward among 50 other environmentally-friendly suggestions by government advisory body on digital development le Conseil National du Numérique.

The body advises “limiting internet contracts” in France.

It said that limited data usage should be encouraged “in order to avoid an indirect subsidy of users with a lot of traffic by all users, bearing in mind that once a ceiling is reached, internet speed should be reduced”. 

As such, the suggested measure would not block internet access but limit download capacity after a certain threshold has been reached. 

This goes against most offers from internet providers in France who centre their mobile and landline offers on unlimited data consumption.

Controversy around suggestion

Ecologists say the sheer amount of data that internet users currently generate is an environmental threat, as it all has to be processed through data servers that use large amounts of electricity. In addition, data servers are housed in large data-centre buildings that also consume considerable amounts of electricity.

However, those against limiting data usage have pointed out that doing so may make it more difficult for people to work from home, for example, which itself has a positive environmental impact, as it reduces car and other transport use. 

Read more: France to double number of wind turbines

Other measures suggested 

The Conseil National du Numérique has said that limiting data usage in France would only make sense if applied in accordance with other measures and a general move towards “adopting digital restraint”.

Other suggested measures in the dossier include limiting web browsers’ ability to pre-load information by running in the background. This allows the browsers to anticipate where internet users will want to go, so they can present relevant pages quicker.  

The advisors have also suggested reducing the amount of energy that electrical devices use.

Senate also discusses limiting data

A similar proposal suggesting that mobile data should be limited was put forward at the end of June in the French Senate.

Senators also discussed giving incentives to encourage the use of second-hand, refurbished smartphones through making use of a European carbon tax, or by applying a reduced tax rate (TVA / VAT) of 5.5% on the cost of repairing phones or buying them second hand.

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