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The European Commission Proposes Charging Data-Heavy Streamers for Telecom Upgrades

The European Union has launched a consultation on a proposal that would require technology companies, such as Netflix and Alphabet Inc., who use the most bandwidth to help pay for the next generation of internet infrastructure. The move is part of the EU’s executive arm’s “fair-share” vision and would require tech businesses to contribute to a fund to offset the cost of building 5G mobile networks and fiber infrastructure. The consultation also asked companies whether there should be a threshold that would qualify a company to be a “large traffic generator.” This proposal has already caused controversy, with the EU’s electronic communications regulator finding in October that there is “no evidence” that platforms like Netflix or YouTube should pay telecom companies to invest in internet infrastructure. Despite this, the consultation remains open for two to three months, with the proposal being the first concrete step toward a plan.

The main benefit of such a plan would go to European phone and broadband companies such as Vodafone Group Plc, Orange SA, Telefonica SA and Deutsche Telekom AG. However, tech companies and lawmakers have expressed concern that this could hurt laws protecting “net neutrality” and ultimately degrade equal access to the Internet.

One internet policy analyst, Konstantinos Komaitis, says the plan is ambitious and politically-loaded and should be detached from any attempt that seeks to pit actors against one another. He writes: “It is disappointing to see the European Commission condensing so many different and important things in one questionnaire under such a politically-loaded environment. Discussion about the future of Europe’s infrastructure and connectivity are crucial for Europe and should take place; however, they must be detached from any attempt that seeks to pit actors against one another, especially when all of them are contributing in different ways to the Internet’s value chain.”

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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