EU regulators group against big tech paying for telecoms network

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) does not support the idea of big tech firms such as Google and Netflix paying for telecommunications infrastructure, it said in initial findings.
Telstra broadband
The European Commission is debating whether internet platforms should be obliged to fund digital infrastructure such as 5G telecoms networks, given they make heavy use of it.

Worldwide 5G mobile data traffic will reach 1676 Exabytes in 2026, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 63 percent. The fast-growing data traffic forces mobile network operators to upgrade their network capacity, ABI Research says.

BEREC has found no evidence that such (a direct compensation) method is justified given the current state of the market, the BEREC conclusions said.

The telecommunications industry has argued Google, Netflix, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple should pay for a fair share of telecom infrastructure as their services make up more than half of internet traffic.

However, digital rights groups fear that if the big tech firms fund infrastructure, they will also strike deals with telecom firms to give their own traffic preferential treatment, undermining the principle of net neutrality.

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Operators, which represents Deutsche Telekom, Orange Group, Telefonica and others – rejected the BEREC findings as outdated and said it would submit new evidence to the Commission to support its position.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