The EU Commission is considering a proposal that would see tech companies charged for network infrastructure upgrades.
The Commission is trying to address challenges likely to arise as the technological landscape continues to evolve. Cloud computing, edge computing, and AI are just a few of the transformative technologies that could have a profound impact on infrastructure requirements.
The Commission outlined its concerns in a survey:
The aim is to gather views on the changing technological and market landscape and how it may affect the sector for electronic communications. It also touches upon the types of infrastructure and amount of investments that Europe needs to lead the digital transformation in the coming years.
Digital markets and in particular connectivity markets are facing transformative technological and market developments. These include cloud data storage, the transition to edge computing, the usability of the Metaverse, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and more. Moreover, such developments are not isolated from the challenging geopolitical and the broader economic situation.
These various technologies will require “massive investments” in infrastructure:
New generations of mobile communications will require massive investments in fibre and densification of antennas. New performance will enable critical use cases and the connection of objects. These developments will likely have a significant impact on the business model of providers of electronic communications networks (“ECNs”), as well as of other actors in the value chain. In light of this, it is important to broadly reflect on how to secure a resilient connectivity architecture based on a sustainable business model able to support our digital future in the EU.
To be clear, the Commission has not publicly endorsed any possibility, but TechCrunch says it is leaning toward a telco proposal that would see Big Tech companies charged for the upgrades. In particular, the EU is looking at those companies that are responsible for the majority of online traffic, such as Google, Meta, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix.