Meta has slammed rumblings in the EU and US that Big Tech companies should be effectively taxed in order to finance the development of broadband infrastructure.
The growing sentiment in those territories is that, as their heaviest users and beneficiaries, Big Tech companies should pay a fair share of the cost of network infrastructure construction.
In February 2023, the European Commission opened an exploratory commission to gather views and insight on the idea of charging tech giants on the issue, and it remains open until May. And, per Ars Technica, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wrote in Newsweek in 2021 that “Big Tech has been enjoying a free ride on our Internet infrastructure while skipping out on the billions of dollars in costs needed to maintain and build that network."
Broadband supply and demand
But, in a blog post, Meta’s Kevin Salvadori, Vice President of Network, and Bruno Cendon Martin, Director and Head of RL Wireless, argued that Meta’s value as a Content Application Provider (CAP) should exempt it from these charges.
“Network fee proposals,” they wrote, “are built on a false premise because they do not recognise the value that CAPs create for the digital ecosystem, nor the investments we make in the infrastructure that underpins it.”
Meta claims that, over the last decade, CAPs have invested over $880 billion in internet infrastructure, and that it has invested $100 billion by itself, including “billions in Europe”. Naturally, the blog post doesn’t provide a source for its own spending.
Meta may in fact invest in infrastructure, but, by its own admission, the company believes that investing in itself drives demand for internet services. This may only be a bit egomaniacal.
“Every year, Meta invests tens of billions of euros in our apps and platforms – such as Facebook, Instagram and Quest – to facilitate the hosting of content.”
“Billions of people go online every day to access this content, creating the demand that allows telecom operators to charge people for internet access. Our investment in content literally drives the revenue and business model of telecom operators.”
Tech giants have their own expenses paid to internet service providers and content delivery networks (CDNs), but that’s probably missing the point: If tech companies need governments to step in and create infrastructure that it will then use heavily for its own profit making purposes, they should foot the bill.
Nobody, and no governmental body, should be doing something out of the kindness of their heart for a rich as sin tech company.
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