European telecoms firms call for web giants to contribute to soaring network costs

European telecoms firms call for web giants to contribute to soaring network costs
Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

European telecoms companies have called on the world’s web giants to contribute financially to the increasing costs of maintaining internet networks.

16 chief executives of telecoms firms, including BT, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, released a joint statement this week, in which they said the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix should be made to pay some of the soaring costs for the huge amount of global internet traffic they carry on their telecoms networks. According to ETNO, a lobby group for European telecoms operators, more than half of global internet traffic takes place through these Silicon Valley giants. The proportion increases to 80% when gaming giants such as Activision Blizzard are included.

The European Commission is already preparing to launch a consultation into whether these technology firms make payments towards costs associated with the global internet traffic they carry on their telecoms networks.

The the joint statement, the telecoms bosses said: “A sustainable, thriving internet ecosystem is in the interest of all European citizens and it relies on the achievement of the EU goals. Timely action is a must: Europe missed out on many of the opportunities offered by the consumer internet. It must now swiftly build strength for the age of the metaverses.

“For this to happen, and to be sustainable over time, we believe that the largest traffic generators should make a fair contribution to the sizeable costs6 they currently impose on European networks. We must ensure that Europe does not suffer from scarcity of digital infrastructure.”

A fair contribution, they argued, would benefit first and foremost consumers, as it would help enable faster and more inclusive roll-out, bringing more coverage, resilience and quality. It would also benefit SMEs, who recently voiced the need for tech companies to “adequately contribute” to roll-out: 5G and fibre are key to SMEs’ competitiveness, they suggested.

The statement added: “In addition, a fair contribution would send a clear financial signal for streamers in relation to the data growth associated with their use of scarce network resources. This could generate significant energy savings and help achieve net zero, both of which are so important at this time. Finally, we expect it also to benefit tech companies, who rely the most on massive network upgrades, as we move to an age of open and connectivity-enabled metaverses.”

The telecoms chiefs welcomed the European Comission’s upcoming consultation, stating their belief that it will lay the ground for a solid legislative initiative that effectively addresses the matter.

They added: “We support a timely calendar that allows Europe to deliver by the end of the current Commission mandate. In addition, we are respectful and fully supportive of the need to uphold the EU Open Internet principles: consumers must continue to enjoy all lawful content and applications available on the Internet.

“Inclusive roll-out requires the full telecom sector to stay mobilised. For this reason, we believe that the fair contribution should be addressed to all telecom providers who are committed to achieving the EU digital goals – no matter whether they are small or big, traditional or alternative.”

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