Belgium’s Telecoms Regulator Rejects Calls for Tech Giants to Fund 5G and Broadband Rollout

The Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (IBPT-BIPT) announced on Monday that there is no clear need to compel technological giants to contribute to the costs associated with the rollout of 5G and broadband infrastructure in the country.
Kazakhstan mobile networkThis declaration comes in response to efforts by European telecom operators, including Deutsche Telekom, advocating for major tech companies like Google and Microsoft to share the financial burden of fifth-generation technology. However, the IBPT-BIPT contends that the necessity to enforce such payments from internet platforms is not convincingly demonstrated.

In a report released on Monday, the Belgian industry regulator stated, “IBPT-BIPT considers that the need to oblige internet platforms to pay network operators is not sufficiently demonstrated. IBPT-BIPT considers that the need to introduce a fee based on the volume of Internet traffic for the Belgian market has not been demonstrated.”

Telecom operators have been pushing for what they term “fair share funding,” a proposal that has been met with resistance from major tech companies, characterizing it as an internet tax.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton had been expected to propose legislation addressing the investment gap of 200 billion euros ($213.92 billion) in the telecom sector. Telecom providers anticipated these proposals after receiving feedback from both sides by the end of June. However, Breton has yet to present any formal proposals, leading to speculation that legislative action may need to wait for the formation of a new European Commission following the European Parliament elections next year.

Additionally, the IBPT-BIPT expressed reservations about establishing a permanent, separate fund to finance temporary peaks in investments. The regulator argued that such a fund might not be suitable due to existing plans for the rollout of fiber and the provision of state aid to benefit rural areas.

The decision by Belgium’s telecom regulator adds a layer to the ongoing debate about the role and responsibilities of major tech companies in supporting critical telecommunications infrastructure, with broader implications for the future development of 5G and broadband networks in the region.