EXCLUSIVE – Focusing on big tech, energy crisis, EU telecoms firms call for network costs to be shared

EXCLUSIVE – Focusing on big tech, energy crisis, EU telecoms firms call for network costs to be shared

by Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Deutsche Telekom (OTC), Orange and Telefonica (NYSE) and 13 other European telecoms companies on Monday made the strongest push for big tech companies to share network costs, citing the energy crisis and European Union climate change targets.

The call comes as the European Commission prepares to solicit comments from both sides before introducing a legislative proposal that could force tech companies to help pay for the deployment of 5G and fiber cable across the 27-nation European Union.

The company’s chief executives said in a statement that the sector, which invests around 50 billion euros ($48.5 billion) annually in infrastructure, urgently needs more funding.

โ€œPlanning and construction costs are increasing. Fiber optic cable prices, for example, almost doubled in the first half of 2022. Likewise, increases in energy and other input prices are also affecting the telecom sector,โ€ they said.

“Timely action is a must: Europe has missed many of the opportunities that the Internet offers consumers. It must now quickly build the strength for the age of metaverses,” said the CEO.

“For this to happen, and for this to be sustainable over time, we believe that the largest traffic generators must make a fair contribution to the huge costs they currently impose on European networks,” they said.

Other signatories to the statement include Vodafone (NASDAQ :), Bouygues (EPA): Telecom, KPN, BT Group (LON :), TIM Group, Telia Company, Fastweb, Altice Portugal.

Telecom operators in Europe argue that US technology companies such as Alphabet (NASDAQ: Google, Meta, and Netflix (NASDAQ):) account for more than half of the Internet’s traffic and should bear some of the costs of upgrading the infrastructure.

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Big Tech has rejected such requests, saying it is already investing in equipment and technology to deliver content more efficiently.

(1 dollar = 1.0301 euro)

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