At a time when life increasingly revolves around the Internet, the European Union is launching a package of measures to improve future connectivity and rethink the model. The announcement by Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton was particularly eagerly awaited by those in charge of telecommunications companies, who are hoping that Brussels will take a step so that big content platforms such as Netflix or YouTube can cooperate in financing the networks. . The European Commission has officially launched a war on “the future of the communications sector and its infrastructure” by launching a public consultation.
Although Brussels tries to say that the issue goes beyond the ways of financing these networks, this is the part on which both “sides” are focused. “The aim is to gather insights into technological and market changes and how they may affect the electronic communications sector. In particular, it seeks to identify the types of infrastructure needed to sustain technological development in Europe and drive digital transformation in the coming years. It also explores the views of stakeholders on how to secure the necessary investments,” the commission said in a statement.
“The consultation is part of an open dialogue with stakeholders on the potential need for actors benefiting from digital transformation to make the most equitable contribution to the connectivity infrastructure,” the statement said. The main European telecommunications companies, Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Orange, have for some time been asking the big six content platforms (Google, Meta, Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft) to participate in the network investment. They consume almost half of the Internet traffic.
That was the main issue that Breton and Telefónica CEO José María Alvarez-Palete discussed at a February 10 meeting in Brussels. The head of the Spanish company explained that it will contribute to the aforementioned public consultation, which will be open for three months, until May 19.
On the other hand, digital platforms believe that the proposal of the “telcos” implies a kind of tax, which they believe will violate the neutrality of the European network.
At a news conference where he unveiled the connectivity package, Breton tried to separate the proposals from the “old” discussion between the big tech companies and the telecommunications companies. “If we want to use the regulation to decide the fight between two players, this is not my way of working,” replied the commissioner, who made sure that it is not possible to talk about the tax yet, because it is a very initial moment, because it is simply a matter of public discussion, so that all interested parties to be able to contribute.
“Sometimes you start with taxes and then you imagine what to do,” he criticizes: “We need to start by ensuring that all stakeholders have the same vision of what our continent should be in terms of connectivity.” Breton argues that you have to deal with “architecture” first and then look at everything else. The truth is that the European Commission admits that one of the aspects it has to analyze is the “fairest” contribution to the infrastructure, which, so far, is the responsibility of telecommunications companies.
Fiber optic in new buildings
The proposal that the Commission has officially put on the table is a revision of the 2014 directive, which has become obsolete in the face of rapid technological advances (artificial intelligence, metaversion, augmented reality…). The idea is to reduce the bureaucratic costs of deploying networks, reducing the response time from public administrations to operators, which will facilitate the reuse of already built public infrastructure, such as roofs, for the installation of network infrastructure.
One of the main innovations is, in general, the obligation of pre-installation of fiber optic system to new buildings. Community sources explain that they are primarily focusing on residential buildings, but it may also reach other types of buildings, such as hospitals.
The so-called gigabit infrastructure law must now be analyzed in the Council and the European Parliament so that they can contribute and be negotiated between the three institutions before its final approval.
Source: El Diario