Members of the FDN Federation are Non-Profit Internet Service Providers sharing common values: volunteer-based, solidarity-driven, democratic and non-profit working; defense and promotion of Net neutrality.
As such, the FDN Federation aims at making its members be heard in debates about freedom of speech and Net Neutrality.
It provides its members with tools to grow and address issues surrounding their missions as Internet Service Providers.
French Data Network (FDN) is the longest-living French Internet Service Provider (ISP) still in operations; its history can be traced back to the first steps of Internet in France. At the beginning of the 1990's, most ISPs were associations, ran by small groups of enthusiasts, or small businnesses (who at the time might have been supporting themselves from another, more profitable venue such as Minitel). Since then, those small business have grown, or been bought out by larger outfits. We defend a different view of the Internet. Our work over the years shows that it is possible to offer a viable alternative to large ISPs: an Internet that belongs to the people.
Over the last few years, FDN has seen a constant growth of its membership and subscriber base, leading to a paradoxal crisis: more people were ready to help than we were able to handle in the workings of a single association. An idea took shape: spread out. The goal was simple: to allow anyone who would want to, to create, at home, between themselves, an associative Internet Service Provider, their Internet Service Provider. The FDN Federation was born out of this movement, and its numerous member associations are today proof that the concept was valid.
Goals and Actions
Members of the Federation are varied, and we like it that way. Some provide ADSL access, others aim to deliver local services, others again build their own local loop, for example by providing Wifi access in areas where ADSL or cable access is lacking, some target a specific population while others don't, and some provide a mix of all these activities.
Our associations all have as their main activity to provide Internet access, but this is not our only activity. We also work to defend our values: freedom of expression on the network, neutrality of the network, involvement of members in management of the network, spreading of knowledge about the inner workings of the Internet. All these activities, which are required to defend a free Internet, require participation of the people. Firstly so that we can be many to act, allowing us to spread over a large number of associations. Secondly so that many others may support our action, stay informed, and spread our message wherever needed.
Members of the Federation are active on many fronts. On the regulatory front, we follow the work of the French regulators (ARCEP) towards protecting (or not protecting) the neutrality of the network, and towards protecting the citizens, users of the network, against any abusive or overbearing position. On the political front, since politicians decide to "civilize" us, or to "regulate" us without a good understanding of what the network is: we work with all political parties to make sure that, at least, they understand what they are doing, and that they do it consciously. On the European front, we attempt to intervene, one way or another, on all topics related to the network (excessive extension of the concept of "intellectual property", telecoms regulations lobbying, outrageous lack of democracy surrounding ACTA, etc.) Finally, on the front of educating people, we go out and explain what the Internet is, how it works, its relationship with changes in our society, and how anyone, anyone can take its place in that change.