‘Fair share’ debate splits the industry – survey

Source: DSP Leaders Council Industry Vision Report

Source: DSP Leaders Council Industry Vision Report

  • The DSP Leaders Council members have shared their views on the telecom sector’s major trends
  • We asked them where they stand with the so-called ‘fair share’ debate
  • It was one of the survey questions that divided the councillors
  • The results come just as the EC reportedly mulls a scheme to get the big tech firms to contribute to European telco capex budgets

The fair share debate, which centres on the concept that the big tech firms should make contributions towards telco capex budgets, has split the telecom sector, according to the results of a recent survey conducted with TelecomTV’s DSP Leaders Council

The debate has been raging for years but has flared up in recent times, particularly in Europe, as the big tech players – or large traffic generators (LTGs) as they are often referred to in the context of this debate – generate ever greater volumes of data and video traffic that reach end users via the telcos’ mobile and fixed access networks. That growth has coincided with increasingly tough financial times for the telcos, which are feeling the pinch and are now pressing lawmakers to force the cloud, streaming and digital services giants, such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix and more, to cough up some capital that would help to fund the telcos’ fibre access and 5G rollouts.

European Commission (EC) bigwigs, such as Internal Market commissioner Thierry Breton, have been considering the plight of the telcos and spent much of last year gathering evidence and industry feedback, but it looked like the issue might be fading away as other more pressing issues took precedence – see EC’s fair share ruling is MIA.

Now, though, Reuters has reportedly seen a document that suggests the EC is looking at ways to amend current European Union telecom rules so that the big tech firms would have to make fair share contributions.   

It’s a contentious issue and not one that is limited to Europe of course – the debate is also raging in the US and in Asia.

So as part of a broad range of questions about key industry trends and developments, we asked our DSP Leaders councillors, who represent a broad range of companies across the telecom sector including telcos, vendors, large enterprises and analysts, whether the large traffic generators should be required to make ‘fair share’ payments towards network operator capex budgets. 

As you can see from the graphic above, which is one of many in the free-to-download DSP Leaders Council Industry Vision Report, our council is split almost right down the middle on the matter, with 48% believing that the big tech firms/LTGs should contribute, 44% believing they shouldn’t and only 8% not sure. 

This looks like a topic that’s going to be debated intensely once again at MWC in Barcelona, by which time hopefully the EC  decision-makers might have shed a bit more light on their fair share thinking. 

This was just one of a number of hot topics we asked our councillors about as part of the survey: We’ve already shared their views on the most important technology developments for telcos over the next three years – see Green networks, next-gen OSS/BSS vital to telco developments – report.

To get all the survey results, check out the DSP Leaders Council Industry Vision Report, which is available to download now. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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