Exclusive: France, Italy and Spain say Big Tech should share European network costs


MILAN, Aug 1 (Reuters) – France, Italy and Spain are pushing the European Union Commission to pass legislation that would allow big tech companies to partially subsidize telecoms infrastructure in the bloc, it said on Monday.

This is the first time that the three governments have expressed their common position on the issue.

EU regulators said in May they were investigating whether tech giants Alphabet ( GOOGL.O ), Google, Metta and Netflix ( NFLX.O ) should bear some of the costs of upgrading telecom networks. Read more

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In a joint paper, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, the three governments said the six largest content providers account for 55% of Internet traffic.

“This will result in some costs for European telecom operators in terms of capacity, at a time when they are investing heavily in 5G and fiber-to-the-home, the most expensive parts of their networks,” the document said.

It urged European telecom networks and large online content providers to pay a fair share of network costs.

The document said, “We ask for the legislative proposal … that all market players contribute to the costs of the digital infrastructure.”

Two Italian government officials confirmed the details of the joint document. One of them said the Rome government was ready to provide informal support in its care capacity ahead of the general election in September.

The French and Spanish governments immediately responded to requests for comment.

According to a study released earlier this year by telecoms lobby group ETNO, the tech giants’ €20 billion annual contribution to network spending could add up to €72 billion to the EU economy.

However, digital rights activists have warned that Big Tech’s payments to networks could jeopardize EU net neutrality rules. Read more

Any legislative proposal “must ensure fairness among consumers based on net neutrality rules, which is the main principle we must protect,” the joint document said.

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Reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Edited by Valentina Za and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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