CEOs of famous European telecommunications companies, mainly Orange and Vodafone, have encouraged the European Union (EU) to levy fees on Tech Giants due to the extensive bandwidth they consume. This suggestion has sparked a powerful debate and separated opinions.
Telecom industry leaders claim that they require extra funding to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure essential to satisfying Europe’s ever-increasing data demands. They oppose the idea that it would be impartial for companies like Netflix to subsidize these expenses. On the other hand, tech titans declare that telecom companies already receive revenue from their consumers. In the meantime, digital rights activists precisely fear that making internet giants pay could result in a two-tiered internet system.
In a letter issued by the European telecom lobby group ETNO, signed by 20 CEOs, it was stated: “Tech Giants’ pay today just about nothing for data transport in our networks, far from covering the costs desired to enlarge networks.” They further highlighted the need for a “fair and balanced role from the major traffic creators towards the costs of network infrastructure” as the foundation for a new methodology.
ETNO has earlier recognized Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Netflix as the key contributors to this matter. According to the CEOs, the European Union estimates that a minimum of 174 billion euros ($183 billion) in new investments will be required by 2030 to meet connectivity goals. They emphasized that the telecom division is presently ill-equipped to meet this requirement.
Orange’s CEOs, including Christel Heydemann of Orange and Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete of Telefonica, made these statements. In answer to these concerns, the European Commission started a public discussion in February, engaging input from citizens, non-governmental organizations, and corporations, with results probable to be made public by the end of 2023.
On the other hand, the idea of a “fair contribution to telecommunication networks” has encountered discord within the EU. While the European Parliament stated support for the proposal earlier in the year, not all 27 member states of the EU are in contract. In June, many countries allegedly opposed imposing such fees on tech giants.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a major tech lobbying group, has consistently argued against this proposal, warning that it could have adverse consequences for European consumers. They assert that customers might end up paying twice—first for internet access and then through increased costs for streaming and cloud services.
In the past, 34 civil society organizations confined an open letter stressing that any levy could contradict Europe’s net neutrality rules, which prohibit telecom firms from offering faster internet speeds to specific companies. The debate surrounding a “fair contribution” to telecommunications networks remains a complex and divisive issue within the European Union.