Big Tech Firms Should Pay ISPs To Upgrade Networks, Telcos In Europe Claim

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The CEOs of 13 large European telecom companies today called on tech giants -- presumably including Netflix and other big US companies -- to pay for a portion of the Internet service providers' network upgrade costs. In a "joint CEO statement," the European telcos described their proposal as a "renewed effort to rebalance the relationship between global technology giants and the European digital ecosystem." The letter makes an argument similar to one that AT&T and other US-based ISPs have made at times over the past 15 years, that tech companies delivering content over the Internet get a "free" ride and should subsidize the cost of building last-mile networks that connect homes to broadband access. These arguments generally don't mention the fact that tech giants already pay for their own Internet bandwidth costs and that Netflix and others have built their own content-delivery networks to help deliver the traffic that home-Internet customers choose to receive. Today's letter from European ISPs was signed by the CEOs of A1 Telekom Austria Group, Vivacom, Proximus Group, Telenor Group, KPN, Altice Portugal, Deutsche Telekom, BT Group, Telia Company, Telefonica, Vodafone Group, Orange Group, and Swisscom. They wrote: "Large and increasing part of network traffic is generated and monetized by big tech platforms, but it requires continuous, intensive network investment and planning by the telecommunications sector. This model -- which enables EU citizens to enjoy the fruits of the digital transformation -- can only be sustainable if such big tech platforms also contribute fairly to network costs." The European telcos didn't mention any specific tech giants, but Reuters wrote today that "US-listed giants such as Netflix and Facebook are companies they have in mind." The letter also discusses other regulatory topics related to fiber and mobile broadband, saying that "regulation must fully reflect market realities... Namely, that telecom operators compete face-to-face with services by big tech."

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