EU to consult on making Big Tech contribute to telco network cost | The Express Tribune


PARIS/BRUSSELS:

The European Union executive will launch a consultation early next year on whether tech giants should bear some of the costs of Europe’s telecoms network, the industry chief said on Friday. European Thierry Breton.

European telecom operators have long lobbied for a financial contribution from US tech firms such as Alphabet’s Google, Meta’s Facebook and Netflix, saying they use up a lot of internet traffic.

“We must also review whether the regulations are adapted with the ‘GAFA’ (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) for example, which use the bandwidth (provided by) the telecom operators,” Breton told reporters, speaking in French.

GAFA is the French acronym for the largest American technology companies, including Netflix.

Breton said this particular issue, or the potential so-called “fair share” of US tech companies in funding Europe’s telecommunications and internet infrastructure, will be part of a broad consultation that will involve the metaverse – global environments. shared virtual spaces that people can access through the Internet.

ETNO, the European telecommunications operator lobby, said in a report in May that more than half of global network traffic is attributable to six companies: Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

These companies argued that the introduction of any new financial contribution would undermine “net neutrality”, or the principle that Internet service providers should allow access to all content and applications, regardless of their source.

Internet service providers, for their part, have said that these companies have conflicting interests in providing competitive services such as voice and television services and exploiting their network, acting as free riders.

Breton said the consultation would be launched in the first quarter of 2023 and would take five to six months. Proposals from the European Commission will follow, he said.

Nine lawmakers from the European Parliament have drafted a letter to be sent to Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Brittany and EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager, urging them to ensure that the companies generating the most traffic on network infrastructures contribute fairly and proportionately to the costs.

The lawmakers, which include Andreas Schwab, Stephanie Yon-Courtin and Paul Tang, also said the new measures should be in line with the principles of the Open Internet Regulation, referring to the bloc’s net neutrality rules ensuring providers Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot block or throttle traffic to prioritize certain services.

“This fairer contribution should not discriminate against specific companies, but reflect the role and impact of those generating the most traffic on the network,” they said in the letter seen by Reuters. .

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