EC to make social and streamer giants pay for networks?
September 12, 2022
By Colin Mann
The European Commission is to launch a consultation early in 2023 on whether tech giants should bear some of the costs of Europe’s telecoms networks, according to Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market.
Europe’s telecoms operators have lobbied for a financial contribution from firms such as Google, Facebook and Netflix, contending that they make up a sizeable part of the Internet traffic.
“We also need to review whether the regulation is adapted with the ‘GAFAs’ [Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon] for example, which use telecom operators’ bandwidth,” Breton told reporters.
Breton suggested that the issue would be part of a broader consultation covering wider topics such as the metaverse.
Telecoms trade body ETNO claimed in a May 2022 report in that six players alone (Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft) combined accounted for over 56 per cent of all global data traffic (including fixed and mobile networks) in 2021.
Breton said the consultation would be launched in the first quarter of 2023 and take five to six months, to be followed by the Commission’s proposals. will follow, he said.
Breton’s disclosure comes as a number of European Parliament legislators have prepared a letter to be sent to Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Breton and EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager advocating that they ensure that those companies who generate the most traffic on network infrastructure should contribute in a fair and proportionate manner to the costs.
“It has been noted that today the costs of digital infrastructure are not fairly shared by all the market players,” they contend, suggesting that “this fairer contribution should not be discriminatory against specific companies, but reflect the role and impact of those generating the most traffic in the network.”