AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A group of European telecom regulators does not support the idea of having big tech firms such as Google and Netflix paying for telecommunications infrastructure, it said in initial findings published on Tuesday.
The findings by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) come as the European Commission is debating whether internet platforms should be obliged to fund digital infrastructure such as 5G telecoms networks, given they make heavy use of it.
“BEREC has found no evidence that such (a direct compensation) method is justified given the current state of the market,” the BEREC conclusions said.
The telecommunications industry has argued Google, Netflix, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple should pay for a “fair share” of telecom infrastructure as their services make up more than half of internet traffic.
However, digital rights groups fear that if the big tech firms fund infrastructure, they will also strike deals with telecom firms to give their own traffic preferential treatment, undermining the principle of net neutrality.
In a reaction to the BEREC findings, telecom lobby group ETNO – the European Telecommunications Network Operators, which represents Deutsche Telekom, Orange Group, Telefonica and others – rejected the BEREC findings as outdated and said it would submit new evidence to the Commission to support its position.
BEREC’s findings said the internet had proved resilient to changing traffic patterns in the past and following ETNO’s proposals “could be of significant harm”.
EU industry chief Thierry Breton has said the European Union will review the matter early in 2023.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Mark Potter)