Brussels, BELGIUM – Introducing network usage fees to subsidise EU telecom operators would have disastrous consequences for European consumers and the EU digital economy as a whole, the tech industry warns in an important filing to the European Commission.
Following a year of telco CEOs lobbying for the introduction of such mandatory fees, the Commission launched an exploratory consultation on big telcos’ demands for so-called “fair share” payments in February, which closes this Friday.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) has now published a position paper that confirms the lack of evidence supporting any of the claims made by EU telecom operators.
Telcos’ demands are based on the false premise that content and application providers (CAPs) are the driving force behind growth in data traffic, and therefore should pay telcos. Yet this is not how the internet works, CCIA Europe emphasises. It is internet service providers’ (ISPs) own customers that are requesting data, and they have already paid ISPs to receive it.
Network fees would seriously endanger Europe’s digital transition, harm European internet users at large, and undermine critical EU net neutrality protections, the paper finds. The campaign of Europe’s biggest telecom operators has proven to be highly controversial, with stakeholders far and wide rallying against the idea that telcos should get paid twice.
CCIA thanks the Commission for launching its exploratory consultation. All stakeholders should have the chance to be heard. At the same time, the EU executive is urged to refrain from considering any regulatory intervention – regardless of the form – that would mandate CAPs to financially contribute to telecom operators’ network infrastructure.
Ultimately, network fees would tax what EU lawmakers actually want more of: Europe’s digitalisation.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Public Policy Director, Alexandre Roure:
“The demands of a few big telecom operators have dominated the debate on network fees. Upon closer inspection, however, none of these telco claims stand up to scrutiny. Network usage fees are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place.”
“Telecom operators simply want to charge the same internet traffic twice. European consumers already pay for internet access, they shouldn’t have to pay telcos a second time through pricier streaming subscriptions and cloud services.”