Germany, others demand clarity on EU plan on telco network costs

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS  (Reuters) – Germany and five other countries joined in a debate that has drawn support and opposition from interest groups as they asked the European Commission for clarity on plans to make Big Tech pay some of the costs of Europe’s telecoms network.

Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telecom Italia call it a fair share contribution, especially as the six largest content providers account for just over half of data internet traffic.

Alphabet Inc unit Google, Netflix Inc, Meta, Inc and other tech giants, have labelled it an internet traffic tax and an attempt to appropriate money from one industry to support the old guard.

The European Commission’s industry chief Thierry Breton has said he will launch a consultation in early 2023 before proposing legislation.

“We as member states have always considered an open and transparent debate on substance on the ‘fair share’ topic as of great importance,” Austria, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany, Europe’s leading economy, wrote in a joint letter to the Commission.

“However, we urge the Commission to further create transparency on its intended timeline, analyses and steps on this topic,” they said.

The countries also said the topic should handled separately and not conflated with another piece of legislation known as the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (BCRD), which they said dealt with different issues. The BCRD aims to set out measures to cut the cost of deploying fast-speed networks.

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