Service providers want to further monetize their “last mile” of network infrastructure.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are protesting what they call a “radical proposal” to require payments from online service providers to Internet service providers, according to a report by Ars Technica.

Noting that Europe’s 2015 “Open Internet Regulation ensures that citizens are free to use whichever apps and websites they wish”, the MEPs said they have “deep concern about the European Commission’s plans to change our net neutrality legislation in the upcoming Connectivity Infrastructure Act to be proposed in autumn, without having consulted the public, technology experts, academics, civil society, or expert regulatory agencies.”

Seeking to fund 5G rollouts?

No specific proposal has been released, but “statements to the press indicate that a new provision would require payments from online service providers to broadband providers — ostensibly to fund the rollout of 5G and fiber to the home”, the MEPs wrote in the letter yesterday to the European Commission.

The letter cited a May 2 Reuters article that noted “tech giants such as Google, Meta, and Netflix may have to bear some of the cost of Europe’s telecoms network, Europe’s digital chief Margrethe Vestager said on Monday, following EU telecoms operators’ complaints.” The MEPs’ list of references also includes two Ars Technica articles from 2012 when a similar proposal was being discussed.

Vestager reportedly said at a news conference that “there are players who generate a lot of traffic that then enables their business but who have not been contributing actually to enable that traffic. They have not been contributing to enabling the investments in the rollout of connectivity… and we are in the process of getting a thorough understanding of how could that be enabled.”

ISPs that deliver content directly to Internet users over the so-called “last mile” of the network have clamoured for extra payments from websites to help cover their costs, in addition to the payments they already get from home and business Internet customers. This week, the CEO of network operator Orange openly urged the EU to mandate payments from big tech companies for internet services.

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