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Telcos call on US techcos to contribute to EU network costs

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CEOs from 13 of Europe's top telcos have inked a letter in which they say that US tech giants should contribute to the costs of building Europe's telecoms networks.

According to Reuters, who has seen the aforementioned document, signatories include Altice Portugal, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Proximus, Swisscom, Telefónica, Telekom Austria, Telenor, Telia Company, Vivacom and Vodafone.

The statement says that due to the increased investment required for 5G, fibre and subsea cable networks to support the data and cloud services provided by the likes of Netflix and YouTube and Facebook, caused investment rise to €52.5 billion ($59.4 billion) in 2020, a six-year high.

"A large and increasing part of network traffic is generated and monetized by big tech platforms, but it requires continuous, intensive network investment and planning by the telecommunications sector," read the joint statement.

"This model – which enables EU citizens to enjoy the fruits of the digital transformation – can only be sustainable if such big tech platforms also contribute fairly to network costs."

The document also said that the European high spectrum prices and auctions are effectively money-makers that introduce unsustainable new telcos to the market.

The group also wrote that attempts to remove surcharges on intra-EU calls was to remove a source of revenue for telcos from business users, saying: "we estimate that they would forcibly remove over 2 billion euros revenues from the sector in a four year period, which is equivalent to 2.5% of the sector's yearly investment capacity for mobile infrastructure."

The news comes days after EU countries agreed a common stance on new rules to limit the power of US tech giants and require them to do more to police their platforms for illegal content.

The proposed Digital Services Act will force US tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of global turnover for non-compliance.

Details still have to agreed and negotiations are due to start in 2022, with rules likely to rolled out in 2023.

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