Stéphane Richard, the outgoing CEO of Orange, assures us: GAFAMs like Google and others like Netflix must pay and thus contribute to the financing of Internet infrastructures. He considers that the latter benefit from the advances of the operators.
Significant costs for operators and their networks
“There is a need to rebalance the contribution of everyone in Europe”, said Stéphane Richard this week during a press conference following the publication of Orange’s financial results. “The weight of infrastructure is entirely due to the telecom sector, which is subject to multiple constraints of all kinds. These major American players, innovative and successful, ultimately benefit from our considerable investments in fiber optics, 4G or 5G, to push their services without contributing to them at all.”, he pointed out. He takes the opportunity to add: “Everyone remembers the sentence of this friendly Eric Schmidt, former boss of Google: you make the investments, I make the profits”.
Several bosses of European operators have therefore drafted a common platform for a solution to be found. This brings together the bosses of Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica. According to them, “video streaming, games and social networks hosted by a handful of digital content platforms represent more than 70% of all data traffic on the networks”. What’s more, the traffic is growing year after year. The operators say that the investments increase, but the return decreases. They go even further, claiming that the situation would no longer be viable, to the point that it could negatively impact networks in the future.
A toll system?
What is the solution according to the leaders? Make a toll system, one like like in South Korea. The Korean access provider SK Telecom is demanding that Netflix pay it the equivalent of 75 million euros to finance its network infrastructure. There was also a court case. The story is similar in the United States, with the question of funding also being debated.
All of this takes time to set up. Orange, being a French operator, at least hopes that the situation will change this year given that there is a presidential election in France. Whoever the next elected president, the operator wants changes, especially on taxation.