A group of European telecom regulators does not support the idea of having big tech firms such as Google and Netflix paying for telecommunications infrastructure, it said in initial findings published on Tuesday.

The findings by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) come as the European Commission is debating whether big tech companies should be obliged to fund digital infrastructure such as 5G telecoms networks, given they make heavy use of it. The debate was kicked off by EU telcos, who approached the commission with the idea to get tech firms to pay for the internet infrastructure late last year.

The debate is just getting started

In a reaction to BEREC’s statement, telecom lobby group ETNO – the European Telecommunications Network Operators — which represents Deutsche Telekom, Orange Group, Telefonica and others – rejected the findings as outdated and said it would submit new evidence to the Commission to support its position.

BEREC’s findings said the internet had proved resilient to changing traffic patterns in the past and following ETNO’s proposals “could be of significant harm”. EU industry chief Thierry Breton has said the European Union will review the matter early in 2023.