Several of Europe’s largest telecommunications firms have called for large technology companies to contribute to the cost of rolling out fibre and 5G across the continent, arguing that the current situation is unsustainable.
Although next generation networks offer significant opportunities for operators to increase revenues through faster speeds and new services – particularly in the business market – there is increasing dissatisfaction among operators about the present situation.
They argue that services such as Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube benefit greatly from investments in network infrastructure without sharing the associated risk, effort, and expense of construction.
Furthermore, they believe it is these services that are driving huge growth in network traffic that makes such upgrades necessary.
In a letter signed by the chief executives of Telefonica, Orange, KPN, BT, Telekom Austria, Vivacom, Proximus, Telenor, Altice Portugal, Telia and Swisscom seen by Reuters, they said:
“A large and increasing part of network traffic is generated and monetized by big tech platforms, but it requires continuous, intensive network investment and planning by the telecommunications sector.
“This model – which enables EU citizens to enjoy the fruits of the digital transformation – can only be sustainable if such big tech platforms also contribute fairly to network costs.”
The letter also criticises the high cost of spectrum auctions and plans by the EU to scrap charges on calls made between member states, arguing both measures also restrict their abilities to invest in networks.
Earlier this month, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, TIM and Vodafone urged EU policymakers to help fund developments in OpenRAN R&D and testing and to incentivise supply chain diversity by lowering the barriers to entry.
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