Google, Facebook and Netflix are just a few of the companies whose presence defines how we perceive the Internet as a whole. With hundreds of millions of users who access their services everyday, it’s easy to see how the activity of these companies come to occupy a significant proportion of the volume of traffic carried over the Internet. The problem is that all this traffic puts pressure on the infrastructure of the ISP companies, which forced themselves to invest considerable amounts to cope with the growing traffic volumes.
In the attempt to cover at least a part of these costs, some of the leading telecom companies in Europe have started an initiative to impose a tax system that would oblige major online service providers – mostly U.S. based companies – to pay a fee directly proportional with the amount of traffic carried by users on the European continent.
According to Cnet, the ETNOA (European Telecommunications Network Operator Association) to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an organization under UN auspices, presented the proposal.
So far, the operators of the main Internet access nodes have functioned under the rules of a mutual agreement that was ensuring unrestricted use of the available bandwidth. The new legislative proposal would change this, forcing companies providing online services to negotiate individually for charging traffic volume made by users in Europe. For giants like Google and Facebook, these negotiations could cost billions of dollars annually – money that would reach the accounts of the European ISPs.
The new tax system, in which providers have to pay for the services offered, could have serious implications for the countries under development, perceived as less profitable markets. Deterred by high costs related to income, many overseas-based ISPs may simply give up the communication channels to some parts of Europe, blocking user access to the services offered.