Telco chiefs ask EU to make Big Tech pay ‘fair share’ for networks

2 Oct 2023

Image: © Valmedia/

Eir, BT and Deutsche Telekom are some of the telecom giants whose CEOs want large drivers of internet traffic to contribute to network infrastructure.

The chief executives of some of Europe’s largest telecom companies have called on EU lawmakers to make Big Tech pay for the expansion of network infrastructure across the continent.

In an open letter sent to the EU today (2 October), the CEOs of Eir, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and others have asked the EU to “overhaul” the regulatory framework so that internet traffic drivers such as Google and Netflix contribute to network investment.

“A revision of spectrum policy, accepting the need for scale to avoid market fragmentation, and a fair and proportionate contribution from the largest traffic generators towards the costs of network infrastructure should form the basis of a new approach,” the letter reads.

The executives argue that the telecoms sector is not in a position to pay the estimated €174bn required in new investment to meet demand for data traffic this decade, which they claim has grown at an average rate of 20-30pc per year, driven by a “handful of large tech companies”.

“While the telecoms sector has delivered improved connectivity, retail prices for telecommunications services have been generally falling over the past 10 years at the same time as costs have increased,” they said.

“New technologies will raise demands on the underlying network infrastructure, further increasing costs.”

Now, they want the EU to establish what they call a fair share mechanism that will require the largest traffic generators who “benefit most” from the infrastructure to pay for the expansion.

“This measure would rebalance the market power along the value chain, while addressing the current asymmetries,” the letter goes on.

“Big Tech companies pay today almost nothing for data transport in our networks, far from covering the costs needed to expand networks and achieve the ambitious EU targets.”

Earlier this year, the European Commission approved a joint venture organised by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone to create a new digital advertising platform and challenge current Big Tech dominance.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic