The European Union’s telecoms regulator group, BEREC, has advised the European Commission against making major technology companies, known as Big Tech, bear the costs of implementing 5G networks. This recommendation comes in response to campaigns by industry associations like GSMA and ETNO, which have been pushing for tech giants to contribute financially to 5G rollout.
The GSMA, representing telecom providers, proposed a “fair contribution mechanism” that enables balanced negotiations between telecommunication companies and large traffic generators. John Giusti, the association’s chief regulatory officer, emphasized the industry’s desire for significant international companies, benefiting greatly from access to European consumers, to pay their fair share for the network infrastructure on which they rely.
Telcos like Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and Telefonica have been lobbying for companies such as Google, Apple, Meta, Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft – which account for the majority of global internet traffic – to share the financial burden of building 5G networks.
However, in its response to the European Commission’s exploratory consultation on May 19th, BEREC expressed concerns that mandatory financial contributions from large content and application providers (CAPs) to internet service providers (ISPs) would disproportionately impact smaller ISPs due to their smaller user base and weaker bargaining power.
BEREC also highlighted that such financial contributions might reduce the incentives for CAPs to develop new content and applications and potentially degrade the quality of existing services. Additionally, CAPs’ customers, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), could experience increased costs as a result of these contributions.
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications further stated that it found no evidence of operators’ costs not being adequately covered.
5G networks are rapidly being implemented worldwide, with carriers investing in expanding and supporting the ecosystem.