The French Telecommunications Federation (FFT) is demanding 2 billion euros from Netflix, Google and Apple

The main French telecom operators, namely Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free, want to charge the tech giants access to their fixed and mobile network, including GAFA and the broadcast platforms that benefit from it. Grouped within the French Telecom Federation (FFT), they demand €2 billion a year.

What if Google, Apple, Netflix, Disney+, Meta and other Internet giants started paying for the use of fixed and mobile networks of operators? This is exactly what the French Telecom Federation (FFT) is asking for today.

FFT unites the main French operators and wants to charge the Internet giants access to fixed and mobile networks, due to their massive use.

In a letter sent last month, this the Informed has been able to obtain, FFT asks the European Commission to make content providers, both streaming services and social networks, contribute to the financing of mobile and fixed infrastructures, in particular 5G and fiber optics.

Mass use that may soon pay off

Fixed and mobile networks have been increasingly used in recent years, especially with the rise of 5G, streaming and gaming. Therefore, users of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc.) need increasingly high-performance networks, which is now possible thanks to 5G in mobile phones and fiber optics in fixed phones.

But deploying these two Internet access technologies has a very high cost, so FFT wants the players who use these networks the most to pay a portion of the funding.

The document is entitled ” For a fair contribution from broadband users to the financing of networks” in which Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free claim €2 billion a year from the internet giants : “For the four operators, the costs generated by the six identified mobile users are estimated at nearly 1.5 billion euros per year and around 500 million euros in fixed networks.”.

A move that joins that of the European Telecommunications Network Operators (ETNO), the European equivalent of the FFT, which demands no less than 20 billion euros a year from the Internet giants for the entire European continent.

Respecting net neutrality

In its letter, FFT insists on the incredible progress of Internet traffic, which has been exploding for several years. It has multiplied by 18 in less than ten years, a colossal growth that benefits GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) but also streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+. The six Internet giants alone account for 55% of bandwidth.

However, the federation is careful to respect net neutrality in its request, but explains this “Nothing prevents a commercial agreement between electronic communications operators and providers of content, services and applications to offset the costs incurred by user-generated traffic”.

A threshold below which players would not pay for access to fixed and mobile networks could then be set for small businesses, such as some social networks, “to guarantee the plurality and diversity of the ecosystem”.

A three-phase plan

To determine how much each online player in question should pay, FFT wants to establish three measures:

  • Traffic volume estimation during peak hours (20:00-22:00) : average calculated over 12 months to determine the minimum threshold from which internet access will be charged
  • Calculation of the invoice amount according to the costs (raw material, energy, labor) and depending on the difficulties of placement
  • Setting an adaptable gigabit data price : in this way the operators and GAFA must conclude a contract of private law

The European Commission will open a consultation on this topic in the first quarter of 2023 for 5 to 6 months, as indicated by Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the internal market. He also tweeted: “Just a handful of players account for more than 50% of the world’s bandwidth. Now is the time to realign the fair remuneration of networks ».

It remains to be seen how this file will evolve next year.

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