Digital connectivity for all

The scale of the challenge for European telecom operators

State of play

Affordable and high-speed digital connectivity, everywhere and for everybody, is a European digital right.

Access to next-generation connectivity, all across the EU, will benefit all European citizens and businesses whilst enabling new, transformational technologies.

All European households to be covered by a gigabit network by


A thriving, modern society is increasingly defined and enabled by access to the most advanced generation connectivity through very high-capacity networks, like 5G and fibre-to-the-home. Across the European Union, policymakers, telecom operators and civil society are working towards making this a reality and the digitalisation agenda will lay the foundation of future economic success and prosperity. This is in line with Europe’s Digital Decade policy programme 2030, which sets out concrete, shared targets and objectives to guide its digital transformation.

As European telecom operators, we want to ensure that every European citizen can benefit from digitalisation to the fullest and that no one is left behind.

Data traffic on the Internet has been growing relentlessly

Almost half of the Internet data traffic comes from a small number of large traffic generators (LTGs - Sandvine - 2023 Global Internet Phenomena Report). European telecom operators are investing huge amounts to build networks which can ensure that this greater traffic reaches everyone, no matter the device they're using or the area they live in. But they receive hardly any contribution from the large traffic generators (or LTGs) mostly responsible for driving Internet traffic growth, which rely on these networks for the delivery of their services and for which they generate large revenues. 



invested by European telecom operators in the past 10 years

European telecom operators are asking the European Union to remedy this market imbalance by proposing legislation guaranteeing that those few LTGs which exceed a traffic threshold on the network as a whole, pay a fair and proportionate contribution to the costs of building, upgrading and using the data traffic delivery services of European networks.

Despite European telecom operators having invested over €500 billion during the last ten years (ETNO - Europe's Internet ecosystem), the European Commission identified a significant investment gap of €174 billion just to meet the EU's Digital Decade goals by 2030. Implementing reforms and stepping up investments in research and development and technological deployment could yield 14% of cumulative additional GDP growth by 2030, according to a McKinsey DG Connect report (McKinsey & Co., 2020 - Shaping the digital transformation in Europe).

The contribution from LTGs to the continuous investments needed will allow a faster roll-out of high-quality networks without putting all the burden on European consumers and businesses and would avoid letting those consumers that do not use the LTGs' services pay for those that do. Currently, European consumers and businesses are the only contributors to shoulder the ever growing investment needs for the transition to 5G and fibre-to-the-home.


Quality of life, prosperity and competitiveness are at stake for European citizens and businesses. Urgent intervention is needed. That is why we are proposing a new Fair Share solution. As became apparent for all during Covid, superior quality and more reliable connectivity for everyone In Europe are essential. Ensuring sustainable and equitable investment in Europe’s network infrastructure is necessary for the EU’s competitiveness and leadership in both the digital and green transition.

European telecom operators need support to deliver the digital connectivity Europe deserves. Unfortunately, the European telecom sector has seen a deficit for 10 years, with return on investment falling below the cost of making these investments in the first place. As a result, European network modernisation remains underinvested, leading Europeans worse off compared to what customers can enjoy in other countries and regions. If we do not act, Europe will lose out on all fronts. We need an improved network infrastructure and a more equitable model to pay for it, where everyone who benefits the most also contributes - telecom operators, consumers, businesses, as well as large traffic generators (LTGs).

Investment in network infrastructure supports GDP growth, job creation, small business expansion. It also helps the environment through increasing energy efficiency, as new networks reduce energy consumption per unit of traffic and help other businesses reduce their carbon emissions. And it also fosters innovation as advanced connectivity is the backbone of digitalisation. Investments from European telecom operators will expedite all of this.

Europe has recognised the problem and launched a consultation to explore a fair contribution solution to meet the high infrastructure investments required, in order to ensure the necessary network deployments. Achieving Europe's 'Digital Decade' targets and reaching high connectivity is not possible without a new approach and a substantial acceleration of the digital developments required.

European telecoms operators are calling for a new approach – a fair and proportionate contribution to the development of networks from the companies that benefit from it.

our proposal

A Fair Share initiative to deliver on next-generation digital connectivity.

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