Operators plan cap on 'unlimited' web

Internet providers look at limiting heavy web use at home - which consumer group says is 'unacceptable' and 'unjustified'

THREE major internet service providers in France are discussing plans to introduce caps on "unlimited" web access - making heavy users pay a surcharge.

SFR, Orange and Bouygues are looking at the case for bringing in new limits on the packages they offer to domestic customers, in order to better control traffic levels.

Consumer rights group UFC-Que Choisir said the proposals were "unacceptable" and "unjustified". French telecoms operator Arcep said the idea was "bizarre".

Other ISPs have distanced themselves. Free said it had "reservations" and Numéricable said it was "not involved" in the talks.

Orange has confirmed that it is looking at imposing limits on some of its packages. However, it remains a proposal and nothing has been decided.

Those who exceed the limit could have their connection speed reduced - or blocked completely until the end of the month.

The director of the Fédération Française des Télécoms, Yves Le Moël, told Le Parisien that "the majority of people" whose web use was moderate would not be affected.

He said this was "not the end of unlimited internet" - but was aimed at making the 5% of heavy web users who account for 80% of traffic "pay a lot more than others".

One of the most vocal critics of the idea this weekend was Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National.

She is drawing up an "internet freedom" law including a clause that would make web access "a fundamental right for every citizen".

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