European telco operators call on Big Tech to pay for upgrades

European telco operators call on Big Tech to pay for upgrades

The CEOs of major European telecom operators recently sent a collectively signed letter to the European Parliament. The letter calls for large tech companies to help pay for rolling out and maintaining telecom network infrastructure in the EU.

European telecom operators have been calling on the EU for some time for measures to ensure that – often American – Big Tech companies help pay for the (telecom) infrastructure in the EU. This is to compensate for the large amount of traffic that these companies, such as Google, Meta, Microsoft and the likes of Netflix, run over these networks.

This increasing traffic causes more and more (infrastructure) costs for telecom operators who would like to receive a fair compensation, 20 CEOs of European telecom operators write in a letter to the European Parliament. The open letter has also been sent to other EU bodies, such as the European Commission.

Signatories include Vodafone, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, BT and Telecom Italia. The CEOs of KPN and Proximus also signed the open letter.

Read also: German telco networks forced to rid themselves of Huawei, despite high costs

Regulation for fair contribution

In the letter, the telecom operators argue that real regulation is now needed to secure a fair contribution from big tech companies. Currently, large tech companies are said to pay little to nothing for data transport over telecom networks, while cloud providers sometimes charge their customers 80 times as much for the onward transport of data to the cloud.

The biggest culprits of increased data traffic should be addressed here in particular. The focus of any regulation should be on accountability and transparency of contributions so that European telecom operators can invest this money directly in European digital infrastructure.

In particular, telecom operators want the money to be used to support the rollout of 5G networks and end-to-end fiber optic networks in the EU.

Furious reaction big tech

Representatives of the large tech companies think the telecom operators are wrong. According to a commentary in the Financial Times, telecom operators should be happy with the big tech companies because they can grow thanks to the content and creative services they provide.

Also, with the fee for big tech, the European telecom operators would want to subsidize their networks fully. Finally, the telecom companies would disadvantage their own customers by passing on a fee for network traffic in addition to subscription fees.