European telecom firms are considering a charge for major content providers, including Google and the BBC, to send data over their networks.
According to the Financial Times, telecom companies in Europe are banding together to plan charges for major content providers such as Google and the BBC that generate huge amounts of traffic through services such as YouTube and iPlayer.
Whilst the European Commission is demanding an increase in investment from telecom companies to increase the availability of faster fibre broadband across Europe, the telecom firms have said in response that they need to generate new income to deliver it.
As services such as YouTube and iPlayer, along with other heavily accessed services from the likes of Facebook and Twitter help fill their existing data networks, the telecoms firms are after a payback.
Under a payment regime to receive these services on their networks the web could effectively become a two-tier system, where the likes of YouTube content would be moved around the web faster than other content, something which many legislators are against.
The argument for charging large content providers for faster access on public networks has been raging for years in the US, where telecoms companies there have so far not been confident enough to try and do it.
Google has continually supported the principle of net neutrality, but the likes of France Telecom, Vodafone, Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom are set to take it and similar companies on, the FT reported.
Telecoms firms have already lobbied Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner responsible for the European Union’s digital agenda, on the issue, and she is expected to bring out a report in July, which is expected to address net neutrality.