EU's leading telcos want 5G transition to be covered by big tech

Emre Çitak
May 18, 2023

European telecom industry leaders are making a resolute push to secure equitable financial contributions from technology powerhouses including Google, Apple, Meta, Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft. These telecom giants argue that such investments are crucial for fostering enhanced infrastructure and facilitating the widespread adoption of 5G technology across the continent.

With these technology companies responsible for more than half of the region's internet traffic, telecom providers maintain that it is imperative for them to contribute their fair share.

For years, major telecom players have been actively advocating for prominent technology firms to play a role in financing the deployment of 5G and broadband networks. They argue that these internet giants have built their success on the substantial investments made by telecom companies in internet infrastructure.

In response to a consultation initiated by the European Commission in February, telecom industry lobbying groups GSMA and ETNO have presented a draft proposal aimed at binding these technology companies to financially support the rollout of 5G and broadband networks throughout Europe but the proposal is not publicly published.

Pay up big tech

The draft proposal put forth by GSMA and ETNO emphasizes the need for well-defined criteria to determine which companies should be considered significant contributors to operators' networks. They represent nearly 160 telecommunication firms across Europe.

According to the proposal, only companies that account for more than 5% of an operator's yearly average busy hour traffic, measured at the individual network level, should fall within the scope of mandatory financial contributions. By establishing this threshold, the proposal aims to ensure that only those companies with a substantial impact on network traffic are obligated to contribute to the funding of 5G and broadband rollout.

This ongoing consultation holds significant implications for the future of 5G deployment in Europe and has garnered substantial attention from telecom industry stakeholders. The draft proposal, which remains unpublished but was reviewed by the news agency Reuters, has gained support from influential telecom companies including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, and Vodafone, who are members of GSMA and ETNO.


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