Cooperation Working Group Interim Session: Small Task Team to Respond to European Commission Consultation on the Future of the Electronic Communications Sector and Its Infrastructure

WG Co-Chairs: Achilleas Kemos, Johan Helsingius, Desiree Miloshevic

On 3 May 2023 from 13:00 to 14:00 (UTC), the RIPE Cooperation Working Group small task team held a remote session via Zoom.

View the Recording


On 23 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on 'The future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure’. 
Section four of the consultation, 'Fair contribution by all digital players’, states in its introduction:

‘Some electronic communications operators, notably the incumbents, call for the need to establish rules to oblige those content and application providers (“CAPs”) or digital players in general who generate enormous volumes of traffic to contribute to the electronic communications network deployment costs. In their view, such contribution would be “fair” as those CAPs and digital players would take advantage of the high-quality networks but would not bear the cost of their roll-out. 

Conversely, CAPs and other digital players argue that any payments for accessing networks to deliver content or for the amount of traffic transmitted would not only be unjustified, as the traffic is requested by end-users and costs are not necessarily traffic sensitive (notably in fixed networks), but would also endanger the way the internet works and likely breach net neutrality rules.’ (Et cetera)

Following the consultation’s announcement, the RIPE Cooperation Working Group chairs called for volunteers to form a small task team to draft a submission on behalf of the RIPE community. The list of those who signed up was published on 25 February. 

Session description

The small task team members hold weekly calls to collate arguments, sources and data to formulate a draft response to the consultation as well as a position paper. As stated on the RIPE Cooperation Working Group mailing list, the team shared its draft response prior to its submission and hoped to have time allocated at the RIPE 86 meeting Cooperation Working Group session to discuss it further.

In order to share the initial results of the small task team’s efforts, the direction it was heading in terms of providing a community response to the consultation, and to engage with the community at large and gather input regarding next steps, the small task team organised a one-hour online session on 3 May at 15:00 CEST (13:00 UTC).

Why is this relevant?

According to the European Commission, the consultation is ‘exploratory’ in nature. However, depending on the outcome, combined with strong lobbying efforts on the part of certain players, it could lead to a future EU legislative initiative to intervene because of a perceived imbalance that could negatively impact Europe’s ambitions and the necessary investments in Internet infrastructure to achieve these. As the outcome of this debate is of concern to all operators within the European Union, community members are urged to inform themselves about this important topic and also engage, if possible, by submitting their own responses to the questionnaire, in particular section four. 

Additional sources

Recording of a Cooperation Working Group panel discussion at RIPE 84 in Berlin, based on ‘a call for large content platforms to contribute to the cost of the European digital infrastructure that carries their services’

Regulation update on RIPE Labs, including a summary of the ‘Fair Share’ / ‘Sending Network Party Pays’ / ‘Cost Sharing’ debate