EU Telcos’ Demand for Network Traffic Payments is Fundamentally Flawed

BY Kasper Peters
May 2, 2022

Brussels, BELGIUM — A study launched today by the lobby group for European telecom operators tries to revive a decade-old pipe dream to make online services pay for internet traffic, something their own customers already pay hefty subscription fees for.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) stresses that ETNO’s renewed attempts to make online services, such as video streaming platforms, pay for network usage are still based on the flawed notion that investment shortfall is caused by services that drive demand for better network quality and higher speeds.

Research by Analysys Mason found that tech companies invested hundreds of billions of euros in internet infrastructure in the 2014-2018 period alone. Online services also work with telcos to avoid network congestion, for example through compression and caching techniques.

ETNO’s campaign is not new. In 2014, then European Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, already told ETNO members that the “situation of European telcos is not the ‘fault’ of [over-the-top players]. In fact, OTT players are the ones driving digital demand – demand for your services!”

The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President and Head of Office, Christian Borggreen:

“It is flawed to conclude that an investment shortfall from telecom operators is caused by exciting services that drive demand for connectivity.”

“Operators are already being paid by their customers. It now seems like telcos want to double-dip in an attempt to make online content and service providers pay for internet traffic in spite of Europe’s long standing commitment to net neutrality.”

“This would be equivalent to energy companies trying to collect fees from appliance makers for the energy use of washing machines, while consumers are already being charged for the actual amount of energy used to do their laundry.”

“These demands by EU telecoms groups are far from new. In fact, they have been pushed and rejected again and again over the last decade, including by the European Commission.”

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