Written by 6:59 pm EU Investment

Spain Calls on Big Tech to Help Pay for EU Internet Networks

European telecom operators are lobbying regulators to make big tech firms, who are the biggest consumers of broadband and mobile data capacity, help pay for infrastructure investments.

Spain is calling on European regulators to make large technology firms such as Amazon Inc. and Alphabet Inc. foot part of the bill for telecom networks.

It is “indispensable” for tech firms to pay a fair share of investments, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nadia Calviño, who oversees telecommunications policy, said in an interview in the Canary Islands. “If we want to continue making the necessary investments in technological infrastructure, we need everyone who uses and benefits from them to contribute to financing that investment.”

European telecom operators are lobbying regulators to make big tech firms, who are the biggest consumers of broadband and mobile data capacity, help pay for infrastructure investments. Carriers have been making the argument to no avail, but it gained traction during the pandemic, when work-from-home and binging of streaming content put added strain on networks.

The European Commission is set to launch a consultation on the subject in early 2023 and some countries such as France and Italy have singled support of the idea of making US tech giants bear some of the costs. Others have pushed back however, with seven seven countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, having sent a joint letter in July to the Commission asking for a cautious approach.

Tech companies say they are already playing their part. Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet have spent billions of dollars laying underwater cables between continents, adding tens of billions of dollars to Europe’s economy, according to research funded by Meta.

Calviño’s statement is aligned with comments made Tuesday at the same event in the Canary Islands by Telefónica SA, Spain’s largest telecom company.

Large tech firms account for about 57% of internet traffic and should therefore “contribute to network deployment” expenses, said Pablo de Carvajal, Telefónica’s chief legal counsel.


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