August 2, 2022 – France, Italy and Spain have urged the European Commission to introduce legislation that ensures Big Tech companies share the costs of digital infrastructure in the region, according to a report by Reuters.
The six largest online content providers (including Google and Meta) make up 55 percent of internet traffic, the three governments noted in a joint statement.
“This generates specific costs for European telecom operators in terms of capacity, at a time they are already hugely investing in the most costly parts of the networks with 5G and Fiber-To-The-Home,” reads the document.
The details in the document have been confirmed by two Italian government officials. This is the first time France, Italy, and Spain have expressed their joint position on the matter pertaining to Big Tech firms and network costs in the region.
“We call for a legislative proposal… ensuring all market players contribute to digital infrastructure costs.”
Earlier in May, Europe’s Digital Chief Margrethe Vestager had said that tech giants might have to share the cost of Europe’s network following complaints from EU telecom operators.
“I think there is an issue that we need to consider with a lot of focus, and that is the issue of fair contribution to telecommunication networks,” said Vestager. “Because we see 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.”
Big Tech companies were not contributing to enabling the investments in the rollout of connectivity, added Vestager.
According to a study released by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO), Alphabet, Meta, Netflix, Microsoft and Amazon accounted for 56 percent of the global internet traffic in 2021. An annual contribution of €20 billion to digital infrastructure by Big Tech companies could give the EU economy a boost of €72 billion.
However, digital rights activists have warned that Europe’s net neutrality rules will be undermined if tech firms are directed to share costs of its telecoms network.