Big Tech firms operating in Europe must cough up more cash to pay for the development of the continent’s fibre and 5G networks, telecom companies have said.
Network providers made the demand in an open letter sent to members of the European Parliament and European Commission, with the operators claiming that the likes of Google, Facebook and other internet giants are currently paying very little for their usage.
According to the letter, internet traffic in the bloc has “relentlessly” risen by between 20 and 30 per cent every year, something they say is “primarily driven by just a handful of large tech companies”.
“This growth is set to continue but, at the current conditions, will likely not result in a corresponding return on investment,” said the companies, which include major players such as Vodafone, Orange, Proximus and BT.
“For these reasons, European telecoms operators are calling on EU policymakers to ensure a fair contribution from those companies that benefit most from the infrastructure we build and operate,” they added.
“Such a mechanism should follow a well-defined and targeted scope addressing only the very largest traffic generators, while excluding smaller content and application providers.”
Telcos also attempted to sweeten the deal for European Union lawmakers by emphasising that such a distribution of costs could encourage more “green” thinking from Big Tech firms, which will be given an incentive to reduce unnecessary internet traffic, driving down energy costs.
The European Commission is not planning any Big Tech crackdown despite a ruling by the Luxembourg Court of Justice banning tracking under certain circumstances. https://t.co/Z8ySiH0yWx
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While telecom operators insist that major technology businesses’ contributions are now needed to keep the development of Europe’s expanding fibre and 5G networks going, those close to the net giants appear to think differently.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), an international US-based non-profit advocacy organisation, has been extremely critical of the request for more cash. It argues that network providers should instead be grateful for the extra business being provided to them.
CCIA Europe head Daniel Friedlaender accused the firms of trying to “fool Europe into providing them with extra cash” with the plea.
“Big telcos are not asking for a ‘fair’ contribution. Europe’s incumbent telcos have grown thanks to exciting content and services developed by creative and tech firms, which telcos often bundle to drive consumer interest in fibre or 5G subscriptions,” he told Brussels Signal.
“Telcos want to get their networks fully subsidised by the same firms who have helped them grow and thrive,” Friedlaender added.
“Ultimately, these telecom giants want to make European consumers pay a second time through network fees, coming on top of their subscription.”
Efforts to censor the internet in Europe must be left to the European Union and its Digital Services Act, the European Commission has told France. https://t.co/C6RmyA6Swa
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