Exclusive: Telcos propose to charge Big Tech for EU 5G rollout

STOCKHOLM/MILAN, May 17, 2010 (FBC) Large tech companies that account for more than 5% of average internet traffic of telecom providers should help finance the rollout of 5G and broadband across Europe, according to a draft proposal by the telecoms industry.

The proposal is part of feedback to the European Commission, which launched a consultation on the issue in February. The deadline for responses is Friday.

Alphabet’s ( GOOGL.O ) Google, Apple ( AAPL.O ), Facebook owner Meta ( META.O ), Amazon ( AMZN.O ), Netflix and TikTok could be hit by the payout, according to industry estimates.

Google, Apple, Meta, Netflix, Amazon and Microsoft ( MSFT.O ) together account for more than half of all data Internet traffic.

The unpublished document, reviewed by Reuters, was compiled by telecom lobby groups GSMA and ETNO. They represent 160 operators in Europe, including Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), Orange (ORAN.PA), Telefonica (TEF.MC) and Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI).

Telecom operators have for years been pleading with tech companies to foot the bill for 5G and broadband deployments, which make up a large portion of the region’s internet traffic. This is the first time they have tried to set a limit on who should pay.

“We propose a clear limit to ensure that only large traffic generators have significant impact on operators’ networks,” the draft said.

“Large traffic generators are the only companies that account for more than 5% of an operator’s annual average business hour traffic, measured at the individual network level,” he said.

The commission declined to comment.

Meta on Wednesday urged Brussels to reject any proposal to charge Big Tech for additional network costs.

In a blog post, Markus Reinisch, Meta Public Policy’s vice president for European policy, described the potential fees as “a directive to the private sector of selected telecom operators” that would stifle innovation and investment and distort competition.

“We urge the commission to consider the evidence, listen to the organizations that have complained and abandon these misconceptions as soon as possible,” he said.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee by Elvira Pollina in Stockholm and Milan; Edited by Josephine Mason in London

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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