back to article Euro-telcos call on big tech to help pay for their network builds

The European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) has published a letter signed by ten telco CEOs that calls for, among other things, Big Tech to pay for their network builds. The letter, signed by the CEOs of the Vodafone Group, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Orange Group and five more telco …

  1. iowe_iowe

    telcos vs big data

    Big tech will win. Big tech always wins. Big tech knows everything. Cars are exciting, roads rarely are.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: telcos vs big data

      Without the cables and radio masts, they can know anything they want, but if people can't connect to their services, they are dead in the water...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: telcos vs big data


      Your road analogy is deeply flawed.

      It's more like having a house in a gated community, your already paying fees for the roads, then when you order something for delivery, the truck driver is then black mailed into paying again just to get to your house even though you paid already for the road.

      The customers of the ISP already pay for the fucking roads.

      ISP's want to get payed twice for the same fucking thing, if they are under charging to try to get a larger % of market so they can monopolise it, let them fuck off and die.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: telcos vs big data

        "The customers of the ISP already pay for the fucking roads."

        ...and they built some very nice "fucking" roads. The problem is that now there are 50x as many cars trying to use those roads and those cars are being given away for free or very cheap to the punters. Now people are complaining they can't drive their new shiney because no one expected the sudden influx on the "fucking" roads. Roads aren't built to manage everyone using them at the same time, that would be silly. But if you suddenly give everyone free or cheap access to a vehicle, human nature shows that so many more will use them that the system become congested. The answer is almost always to restrict users in some way.

        And yes, as always, car/road analogies break down more often than a 30 year old Ford Escort :-)

        Of course, in this case, I don't know if it's really the telcos bleating or if this is a genuine problem. Maybe a bit of both. I doubt any of the telcos or ISPs predicted the levels of video streaming going on these days.

  2. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

    Surely all this indicates is that the Telecos aren't charging enough for access to their data networks.

    After all, part of the fee people pay to telecos, for access to their networks, is meant to be for maintenance and improvements, isn't it?

    no... wait...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's simply a move to hope to get a slice of the cake to fatten dividends and bonuses, while trying to kill off competition from smaller ISPs - how could OTTs pay every ISP in the world? And how money should be shared? They would make deals with the larger ones only - incidentally, those that wrote that letter.

      Meanwhile the same telcos wants governments to heavily subsidize FTTH and 5G networks.

      It is clear that if your network can't cope with customers demands and you have to invest you have two ways: lower shareholder dividends or increase prices. But they wish to avoid both to keep on looking good with both stock exchanges and customers, and deliver price increases through OTTs...

      1. Chris G

        It's no surprise to see the Names that head the list of telcos, all the usual offenders who routinely overcharge their customers and then take their own sweet time crediting those customers with the wrongly taken funds.

        So far, every time I have been offered services by a telco, it has never been a particularly good deal, especially if you read the small print which often wants you locked in for the first three years in order to qualify for their 'wonderful' offers.

        They are generally too greedy, only look at the short term and tend to look down on the Big Tech 'Upstarts' as newcomers who have pushed them out of what they consider their territory.

  3. JetSetJim


    Amusing. Now compare profits between a Telco and their infrastructure providers. The likes of Vodafone make far more profit, and the last 15-20 years has seen margins on infrastructure squeezed so hard the number of infrastructure vendors large enough to finance this has been greatly reduced.

    Basically they're saying, Nik, Ericsson, Huawei (where possible), please give us your boxes for free. It won't/shouldn't fly.

  4. buiv

    What a weird argument. I am not a fan of “big-tech” but the argument according to me is bonkers. Why would bigtech pay for it, they aren't the consumers. And telecom providers all around the world charge extra than appropriate prices.

    1. Cuddles

      "Why would bigtech pay for it, they aren't the consumers."

      Except that's what makes the whole thing so silly - big tech are the consumers, which is why they already pay for it. Telcos are basically just providing a pipe. The likes of Netflix pay to put stuff in at one end, and other people pay to take it out at the other end. What the telcos are now saying is that they want Netflix to continue paying to put stuff in, but also pay again when it's taken out again, at the same time as the person taking it out also continues paying. The claims about capacity and investment are just distractions to try to confuse people into arguing about those points instead of recognising just how abusive the demands actually are.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Net Neutrality

    If some sites start paying the service providers for bandwidth, wouldn't they reasonably require that priority is given to traffic involving their site? Does that sound like a good idea?

  6. big_D Silver badge


    putting servers inside the network of the IPSs and the mobile networks is all well and good, but they also need to reach the users of the network.

    If the server in the networks data centre can't reach users in not-spots or in places where they only get dial-up speeds, those services are totally useless.

    I just switched away from Vodafone, because I was on a 500mbps LTE contract, but at work I got around 0.001mbps and at home ~5-12mbps. I'm now paying a third of what I paid Vodafone for a 50mbps LTE contract and I get 8mbps at work and 20mbps at home.

    If I was in the local city, I'd get around 60mbps, on a good day. It just wasn't worth paying 3 times as much for a theoretical 500mbps service, when they couldn't even deliver 1% of that most days!

    I'm not saying Big Tech needs to co-invest, or that they don't, I'm just pointing out that putting servers inside the network doesn't help with the last mile delivery.

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: Netflix...

      500mbps LTE? Seems optimistic to expect that everywhere, as a single 20MHz carrier of LTE peaks out at 100mbps, so you need 5 carriers in carrier aggregation to get this (the most supported by the standard), plus a device that can receive it, plus a network that has deployed it in your location, plus limited contention, plus decent RF propagation (no noise) so that you can use the higher coding schemes...

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Netflix...

        Yes, but as I pointed out, getting at least a 10th of that would have been good!

        The connection at work was so slow that Vodafone's own network speedtest was claiming that there was no Internet connection available. Email and Signal messages would (eventually) arrive.

        I switched to congstar, I "only" get 50mbps maximum, but at least I get a usable speed, even at work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netflix...

      so what your saying is vodaphone charged you for 500mbps but in reality could only delivery a fraction.

      Not sure what your point is, as that is not netflix's fucking problem at all.

      That's Voda's problem full fucking stop.

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: Netflix...

        I think the main point they were making is that the infrastructure investment also needs to include the huge number of base stations to deliver sufficient bandwidth to the punter, pointing out that VF (DE) have not invested in their radio access network to deliver on contracts that tout (up to) 500mbps. RANs are expensive to commission and run - historically some infrastructure providers have offered major incentives to take their kit in order to get hardware on the ground (ripping can also be expensive), but I'm not sure how much that happens anymore. Perhaps VF are yearning for such good old days.

        Secondly, if a speedtest returns shite, it's a poor showing by VF as the traffic for those tests are usually prioritised anyway so reality is likely to be worse! Unless the poster is living deep in a Bavarian mountain range with nowt but the occasional yodeller for company, and the office is a shepherds hut at the end of the garden. And the cost of shipping bits to the end user is not just about the various fat cables interconnecting networks - there's also the cost of supplying the last mile to bear in mind.

        I don't think OP was complaining that Netflix or Ericsson weren't paying for VFs' infrastructure - just that where they are the infrastructure is shit

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Netflix...

          Precisely. If the infrastructure isn’t there, it is irrelevant how many servers Netflix put into the data centre, If the provider can’t deliver the data to the customer.

          I live in Lower Saxony, I live in a small town and work in another small town.

          In the office, there is an edge signal, but very weak. If I go outside and walk 100M in any direction, I could get around 20mbps. The office is a, from Vodafone acknowledged, not-spot.

  7. Fazal Majid

    Telcos have a legitimate beef with governments for being used as cash cows via spectrum auctions, and unfunded mandates like having to rip out their Huawei gear and install more expensive and technologically inferior Ericsson/Nokia instead. That said, no one forced them to overbid in the spectrum auctions.

    As for the tech companies, if anything they are the ones who could be demanding payments. Without their content, no one would buy the telcos’ Internet service.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      I would have a scintilla of sympathy if they actually made an effort to provide good coverage - if you live in a UK low population density area you are usually pretty screwed. For a lot of people "in the sticks", the only option is go to EE in the UK (as with the Emergency services network contract they have, it means they have to build masts as have a duty to cover lots of "not spot" areas - other telcos CBA as not worth it when they do cost / benefits analysis). So no sympathy from me

      1. Fazal Majid

        I just switched from Three to EE a couple of weeks ago, mostly because they are the only provider with Apple Watch Family Sharing support (so I can get my daughter a watch for emergency call and geolocation purposes). I didn't realize as a BT offshoot they had these public-service obligations, thanks for the info. Their speed is definitely slower than Three, but voice service is more reliable in NIMBY mast-hostile Hampstead. I still keep a Three SIM for my iPad, which is where most of my data use lies, however.

        The telcos' sense of entitlement is something to behold. Just the term "Over The Top (OTT)" shows they feel entitled to a share of revenue they did nothing to earn beyond building the infrastructure they are already paid to provide by their clients.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      "no one forced them to overbid in the spectrum auctions."

      This... The auctions were just that, they could easily have clubbed together and said... Nope - we're not doing that, we'll all invest in a spectrum company, and they can be the only bidder.

      The rip and replace of huawei gear is something I do have sympathy for though...

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Without their content, no one would buy the telcos’ Internet service."

      Naaah. There was and is plenty of content without going near "Big Tech". It's primarily video content coming from "Big Tech". Most people buy the cheapest service available, so no, they generally don't buy service based on how much streaming they might do. I suggest that the very high capacity home connections are way more niche than many here might think and of those who do have very high capacity probably barely use it anywhere near full capacity.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        "I suggest that the very high capacity home connections are way more niche than many here might think and of those who do have very high capacity probably barely use it anywhere near full capacity."

        Whilst I agree with your first point... I don't have the high speed connection for the bandwidth, but for the latency and consistency which fttp provides (an order of magnitude better on both, and living on remote sessions the latency is nice).

        I then chose a service level which made economic sense based on my usage (if I get 5 times the bandwidth for 5% more cost then it's probably worth having that, even if I only occasionally use it, and could do the same but slower).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    his is crazy and I work for a telco (not mentioned).

    It is up to the telcos to decide how much to invest in network maintenance and upgrades. If they get this wrong by spending too much their offer to users will be too expensive and users will move to cheaper services, if they invest too little users will leave because the service is crap.

    The idea that a telco will somehow stop access to big tech is laughable. All users would leave.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ISP to Big Tec: Pay us to carry your content because your content is causing severe bandwidth use.

      Big Tek to ISP: We've all paid you to provide that bandwidth. Your consumers have paid, your enterprise customers have paid, and the government has shoveled a fat mountain of cash at you to provide the bandwidth. We're not going to pay you *again*.

      ISP gather up & write a letter demanding said payments.

      Big Tec uses the letter as a list of IP blocks to block from getting the stuff the Big Tec provides. Instead serving up an error message akin to "Sorry you can't get our content. $ISP is trying to extort us into paying them for the bandwidth _you_ have already paid them for. Please change ISPs & try your connection again. Thanks!"

      ISP suddenly turns into a ghost town, crickets chirping, tumbleweeds rolling by, eerie howling wind wasteland.

      ISP to customers: Hello? Anyone out there? Hello???

      Moral of the story: don't bite the hand that feeds you, its likely to take away your food dish & let your sorry ass starve.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Yup.

        Big tech will cave in eventually and pass the cost to their sheep...erm, customers. Business as usual.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Yup.

          No they won't - they don't want to charge their advertisers any more than they already do.

          They might shovel more ads at their product (users) though..

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Yup.

        "Moral of the story: don't bite the hand that feeds you, its likely to take away your food dish & let your sorry ass starve."

        Change the above a bit to refer to cable or satellite TV companies and the channel providers and we've all seen exactly that scenario play out multiple times over the years.

        Although Sky, on the other hand, looks like it's getting out of the satellite TV business and moving to a streaming model. I guess they have "run the numbers" and worked out that it's cheaper to stream their data over someone elses pipes instead of paying for transponder space on satellites. I wonder how long it will take them to make "streaming only" channels and move all their best shows to that channel to nudge people off their dishes and eventually drop the dish service completely. After all, when Sky were forced to sell access to cable TV in the UK, they managed to get the channels named in the ruling and almost immediately created a new channel not in the agreement and moved all their best stuff there (Sky Atlantic) and didn't sell access to cable for that.

  9. localzuk Silver badge


    So, let me get this straight... those big tech companies all have connections peering into the ISP networks. Those connections have a fee charged by the ISP to exist. Some of those big tech companies also pay to have such connections and then pay to host arrays of their servers in ISP data centres to allow better service for those ISPs' customers.

    We as consumers pay ISPs to connect to their networks also.

    So, as far as I can ISPs are already being paid at least twice for the data that ends up getting to us, the consumer.

    If that still isn't enough, surely they should simply be charging more somewhere? Rather than demanding new, separate, fees?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I can ISPs are already being paid"

      Yes, but it's not so easy - for example if a Google datacenter is in Ireland (I don't know it this is correct, let's use it as an example), and the users are in Germany or Spain, Google will pay some entity in Ireland to pipe out the contents, but the German or Spanish telco won't see that money, and that's what they want.

      But after all were the telco that hindered most local- and user-generated contents because of heavily asymmetric connection technologies deployed, and that led to the OTT dominance also.

      Yet most of the run also Tier 1 networks - it they wish more money they could stop the free peering between Tier 1 networks and start to charge flows if too asymmetric. But that would put everyone of them against the others to win the best deals, and they don't want competition - which of course would lower profits, they want a EU-backed cartel to obtain a lot of money to share among themselves with no effort.

      Now OTT have to pay their fair share of taxes which can also be used to subsidize network expansions, but that's another matter.

  10. nijam Silver badge

    > Carriers everywhere have never quite been able to reconcile why they have so spectacularly failed at upselling customers.

    Because customers see they've been ripped of for decades by carriers?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big Tech/BIGTECH/bigtech ?

    I would like to know who is considered Big Tech in all this.

    Is it General Electric? John Deere? Universal Studios? Apple? NASA? IBM? British Petroleum? Exxon? TSMC? Shell? Bayer? Airbus? Arcelor-Mittal? Toyota? Nissan? Mitsubishi? 3M? Siemens? Samsung? Roche? Procter & Gamble? Nvidia? Merck? Intel? Cisco? BHP? ...and so many others?

    Some data handlers like google or facebook cannot be, their object of work may disappear overnight... just by unplugging...

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