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EU to consult on making Big Tech contribute to telco network costs

The European Union’s executive body will launch a consultation on whether technology giants should pay to mobile operators since their consumers use a significant amount of data powered by telecom networks. big tech eu

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Leading telecom operators have lobbied for a financial contribution from U.S. technology firms such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta’s Facebook and Netflix, saying that they use a huge part of the internet traffic.

In Western Europe, the average monthly mobile data usage per smartphone is expected to reach 52GB in 2027. This will force telecom operators to spend more on mobile networks in the EU.

mobile network data traffic

Currently, global video traffic is estimated to account for 69 percent of all mobile data traffic, a share that is forecast to increase to 79 percent in 2027. 5G’s share of mobile data traffic was around 10 percent in 2021, and this share is forecast to grow to 60 percent in 2027, according to Ericsson Mobility Report.

Total global mobile data traffic – excluding traffic generated by fixed wireless access (FWA) – reached around 67EB per month by the end of 2021 and is projected to grow by a factor of around 4.2 to reach 282EB per month in 2027. Including FWA, this takes the total mobile network traffic to around 84EB per month by the end of 2021, and to 368EB per month by the end of 2027.

“We need to review whether the regulation is adapted with the GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) for example, which use bandwidth provided by telecom operators,” EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said.

More than half of the global network traffic is attributable to 6 (US) firms big tech eu

GAFA is the French acronym to designate the biggest U.S. tech firms, including Netflix, Reuters news report said.

Breton said that this particular issue, or so-called potential “fair share” of U.S. tech companies in the financing of the European telecoms and internet infrastructure, will be part of a wide consultation that will entail metaverse — the shared virtual world environments in which people can access via the internet.

ETNO, Europe’s lobby for telecoms operators, said in a report in May that more than half of the global network traffic is attributable to six firms: Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

These firms have argued that the introduction of any new financial contribution to telecom operators would challenge net neutrality or the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of their source.

Internet providers have said these companies have conflicting interests by providing competitive services such as voice services and TV and by exploiting their network, acting as free riders.

Breton said the consultation would be launched in the first quarter of 2023 and will take five to six months. The EU Commission’s proposals will follow, he said. big tech eu

Nine lawmakers at the European Parliament have drafted a letter to be sent to Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Breton and EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager urging them to ensure that companies generating the largest traffic on network infrastructure should contribute in a fair and proportionate manner to the costs. big tech eu

The lawmakers, who include Andreas Schwab, Stephanie Yon-Courtin and Paul Tang, said measures should be consistent with the principles of the Open Internet Regulation, referring to the bloc’s net neutrality rules ensuring that internet service providers (ISPs) can’t block or throttle traffic to give priority to some services.

 

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