The European Telecommunications Network Operators (ETNO) has called on Big Tech giants to contribute to the funding of 5G and broadband infrastructure rollout. This plea comes as new data reveals that Europe is trailing behind the United States and Asia in crucial areas such as 5G networks, cloud computing, investments, and revenues.
ETNO’s members, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Telecom Italia, are amplifying their call for support from tech giants like Alphabet’s Google, Amazon, Netflix, Meta Platforms, and Microsoft. The appeal coincides with the European Commission’s imminent proposal on digital networks and infrastructure, scheduled for release on February 21.
Despite the European telecom industry’s record-breaking investment of 59.1 billion euros ($64 billion) in the previous year, a report commissioned by ETNO from research group Analysys Mason revealed that only 10 out of 114 networks in Europe were 5G standalone. This highlights a significant lag in the region’s 5G adoption compared to other global counterparts.
The report also pointed out that Europe had only four commercialized edge cloud offers in 2023, a stark contrast to the 17 offers in the Asia-Pacific region and nine in North America. ETNO attributed this disparity to Europe’s lower telecom capital expenditure per capita and average revenue per user (ARPU) in 2022 compared to South Korea, the United States, and Japan.
ETNO reminded EU regulators of the 2022 Rights and Principles Declaration, emphasizing that all entities benefiting from the digital economy should make a “fair and proportionate contribution” to digital network investment. The lobbying group stressed that the ongoing debate on this issue would significantly impact the long-term strength and investment capacity of the European telecom sector.
“The status quo, both in terms of investment and policy, will not deliver the levels of innovation that are so desperately needed to sustain growth and deliver on the Open Strategic Autonomy,” commented ETNO Director General Lise Fuhr. The industry awaits the outcome of this crucial discussion that could shape the future of European telecommunications.