Should Google, Meta And Netflix Help Pay For Telecom Networks? Why Not, Says EU’s Vestager

Tech giants such as Google, Meta and Netflix may have to bear some of the cost of Europe’s telecoms network, EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager said on Monday following complaints from telecoms operators. Europeans.

“I think there is one issue that we need to look at very carefully, and that is the issue of equitable contribution to telecommunications networks,” Vestager told a news conference.

“Because we see that there are players who generate a lot of traffic which then enables their business, but who have not really contributed to activate this traffic. They have not helped enable investments in the deployment of connectivity,” she said.

“And we’re figuring out how that could be enabled,” Vestager said, adding that she was looking at how data traffic is changing over time and that related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social media companies, streaming services and online shopping giants rely on the Internet and fixed or mobile telecommunications networks to reach their customers. Because they must run on existing infrastructure, they are commonly referred to as OTT (over-the-top).

Telecommunications companies argue that because the services provided by these OTTs generate more and more traffic and data, which requires investments to upgrade networks, these costs should be shared more equitably.

“Network operators have invested more than 500 billion euros over the last 10 years in the development of their fixed and mobile telecommunications networks in Europe. But is everyone contributing their fair share? said telecommunications lobby group ETNO in a statement on Monday.

He published a study Meta, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix accounted for more than 56% of all global data traffic last year.

The study indicates that an annual contribution of €20 billion to internet giants’ network costs could provide a €72 billion boost to the EU economy. ETNO members include Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

Google, Meta and Netflix could not immediately be reached for comment.

Vestager, however, shrugged off calls from the telecoms industry to ease EU merger rules to allow for increased consolidation.

“The problem is that the arguments we hear, like the need for scale to invest, are not new,” she said.

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