Telcos draw up a proposal to charge Big Tech companies for 5G rollout in the EU

Author: Editorial
event 18.05.2023.
Foto: Shutterstock

GSMA and ETNO have prepared their demands as part of feedback to the European Commission which launched a consultation into the issue in February. The deadline for responses is Friday, May 19th.

The telecoms industry has proposed that major tech companies, responsible for more than 5% of a telecoms provider’s peak average internet traffic, should contribute to the financing of 5G and broadband expansion throughout Europe. Industry estimates suggest that companies such as Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, Netflix, and TikTok are likely to be subject to these fees.

These companies collectively account for over half of all internet data traffic. The draft document, reviewed by Reuters but not yet published, was prepared by telecoms lobbying groups GSMA and ETNO (European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association), representing 160 operators in Europe, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Telecom Italia.

Telecom operators have long advocated for leading technology companies to share the expenses associated with the rollout of 5G and broadband, as they generate a significant portion of the region’s internet traffic. This marks the first attempt to establish a specific threshold for determining which companies should be responsible for these costs.

The draft proposes a clear threshold to include only major traffic generators that have a substantial impact on the operators’ networks. According to the proposal, “large traffic generators” would refer to companies accounting for more than 5% of an operator’s yearly average busy hour traffic, measured at the individual network level.

The European Commission has refrained from commenting on the matter.

However, Meta (formerly Facebook) has urged Brussels to reject any proposals that would require Big Tech to bear additional network costs. In a blog post, Markus Reinisch, Meta’s VP for Public Policy for Europe, criticized potential fees as a “private sector handout for selected telecom operators,” arguing that they would discourage innovation and investment, and distort competition.

Meta called on the Commission to consider the evidence, listen to the concerns raised by various organizations, and swiftly discard these misguided proposals.


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