Big Tech may have to share network costs in Europe amid pressure from EU countries, documents revealed

France, Italy and Spain are stepping up pressure on the European Commission to introduce legislation that ensures Big Tech companies partially fund telecom infrastructure in the bloc, a document showed Monday. .

This is the first time the three governments have expressed a common position on this issue.

In May, EU regulators said they were analyzing the question of whether tech giant Alphabet could Google, Metaand Netflix bear some costs of upgrading the telecommunications network.

In a joint paper, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, the three governments said the six largest content providers account for 55% of internet traffic.

This creates a concrete cost for European telecom operators in terms of capacity, at a time when they have already made huge investments in the most expensive parts of the network with 5G and Fiber-To, the document says. -The-Home”.

It calls on European telecommunications networks and major online content providers to pay a fair share of network costs.

“We call for a legislative proposal … that ensures all market participants contribute to the costs of digital infrastructure,” the document said.

Two Italian government officials confirmed the details of the joint document. One of them said that Rome’s government is set to informally support its caretaker capacity ahead of a general election in September.

The French and Spanish governments immediately responded to requests for comment.

According to a study published by telecoms lobby group ETNO earlier this year, an annual contribution of 20 billion EUR (about 1.6 lakh crore) to the network costs of the tech giants could be bringing in EUR 72 billion (about 6 lakh crore) to boost the EU economy.

However, digital rights activists warn Big Tech’s payment for networks could threaten the EU’s net neutrality rules, which they fear could be downplayed in a deal with online giants to help fund telecom networks.

Any legislative proposal should “ensure fairness among users in accordance with the rules of net neutrality, which is a core principle that we really need to uphold”, the joint text reads. know.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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