Brussels launches consultation asking if Big Tech should finance Internet connectivity

Brussels launches consultation asking if Big Tech should finance Internet connectivity

The European Commission has launched a consultation looking at the future financing of Internet connectivity and whether big tech companies should help fund it.

Currently, large telecom companies, like Telefónica, Telecom and Orange have paid for previous technological advancements, but the Commission opened up the debate on Thursday to gather views on whether big tech businesses, like Netflix, Amazon and Google, should contribute towards the development of 5G and fibre networks.

During the announcement to reporters in Brussels, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, and former French telecoms CEO, Thierry Breton, said that the costs are becoming too high for just telecoms companies to pay.

"This reflection, I want to say right away, it is not done 'against' anyone in particular, but it is done 'for' our fellow citizens to bring them connectivity, to bring them innovation, to bring them good infrastructure and for our companies to provide them with the best connectivity," he said.

"Today, the burden of these investments is increasingly heavy, as we know, due, among other things, to the low return on investments."

Telecom companies have been arguing for years that tech companies use their services without contributing.

For Alessandro Gropelli, the deputy director general of the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO), this imbalance cannot go on.

"We think that this is no longer sustainable," he told Euronews.

"Your Internet bill, your phone bill cannot be the only way in which we fund 5G and fibre. There is another group of companies that makes a lot of money on the Internet with personal data, with advertising and so it is only natural in our view, that they also contribute to that."

However, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which reflects the tech companies' interests, argues that the Commission should find a more "inclusive" approach and asks it to abandon the idea of burden-sharing.

The Commission also announced plans to make gigabit connectivity - 1 gbps Internet speeds - available to all citizens and businesses by 2030.