The Future of the Internet in Europe
In search of a sustainable funding mechanism through which to power universal connectivity, the European Commission has launched a consultation on “The Future of the Electronic Communications Sector and its Infrastructure.” But will the consultation’s proposal on mandating a “fair contribution” by large digital players undermine the Internet ecosystem or strengthen it?
In our highly-connected, digitally-reliant world, the amount of video streaming and other high-bandwidth applications is growing and will likely continue to do so. Some ISPs have proposed that the largest content providers (CAPs), who are responsible for the largest traffic flows, face mandates to pay for broadband infrastructure. Following a sustained push by major European ISPs, the European Commission recently put forth an exploratory consultation that solicited opinions on the proposed “fair contribution” regime—under which large digital players that generate large traffic flows would be required to contribute to network deployment costs.
This policy would have big implications for the flexible, dynamic partnerships between CAPs, ISPs, and intermediaries that make up the current Internet. It could also change how consumers access and pay for content online.