The growing importance of the Internet also requires a corresponding infrastructure. Accordingly, major Internet providers such as Deutsche Telekom are currently working meticulously on broadband expansion. Since the whole thing is, of course, linked to high costs, the profiteers will soon have to share in these costs as well. The EU is of the same opinion, which is why it now wants to force big tech companies from overseas to provide financial support. Presumably, a corresponding obligation for corporations like Meta, Google and Netflix could come as early as next year.
Prospects for success for ETNO
For some time now, the European Telecommunications Network Operators (ETNO) association has been putting pressure on US Internet companies. The reason for this is that they do not think it is fair to pay for the necessary network expansion in the EU out of their own pockets. This can certainly be understood. After all, it is mainly streaming providers, social networks and online shopping houses that benefit from broadband expansion. Now a new idea has been born as a practical tool to ensure that the European telecommunications industry receives support. As insiders from the telecommunications industry have leaked, they are currently planning a data levy. According to a report in the Handelsblatt, this should take effect as early as next year. If this rumor proves true, the telecommunications industry in Europe would have taken a huge step forward.
The extent to which the whole thing will pay off financially, however, is still unknown. It is not yet known how high the levy will be, nor how it will be structured. However, it already seems clear which companies are likely to be affected. And in this respect, the EU seems to be acting very fairly. The levy seems to be concentrated on all those who also use a particularly large amount of data volume for their service. Streaming services a la Netflix or Amazon Prime in particular seem to be in the focus. Meta, with its hodgepodge of different social networks, is also likely to feel addressed. After all, not only Facebook consumes a lot of data volume. WhatsApp, with its Internet and video telephony service, is also likely to take up a lot of bandwidth.
Apparently, behind the scenes, one seems to be already very close to the goal. This can at least be interpreted from the words of Alessandro Gropelli. The deputy director of ETNO tells Handelsblatt that negotiations are already in the “hot phase.” While Telekom’s lobbying association is happy about the data surrender, it is quite controversial among other bodies. According to their own statements, the tech companies not only fear an additional financial burden. Together with other organizations, they see the principle of network neutrality in danger. Among other things, this principle states that the Internet must treat all data equally. Accordingly, ETNO would have to demand payment from everyone who feeds their data into the network. The EU Commission, on the other hand, sees no contradiction between data levies and net neutrality.
However, the responsible spokesperson did not want to give details or reasons for this yet. We will have to wait and see what the final form of the data levy will be. If you consider how large the taken bandwidth of large tech companies is, you can understand the demand for a data levy. According to a study by ETNO, the big names Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Microsoft claim a whopping 56 percent of all data traffic. Since all these companies also come from the USA and not the EU itself, the frustration is naturally great. After all, they can’t even avail themselves of tax payments here to put money into expansion.
Tech corporations are already paying
On top of that, some corporations are complaining that they are being made to look as if they are not participating in the network expansion at all. In particular, the two Internet giants Google and Meta clearly emphasize that they are already making investments in network expansion. According to their own statements, they are not only spending money on their own data centers. On top of that, they also seem to be incurring costs for laying broadband cables. However, this will probably be peanuts compared to the data traffic used. We are curious to see whether lobbying associations and tech companies will come to a common denominator.