Executives from many of Europe’s largest mobile operators made a fresh push in a long-running campaign pleading with authorities to force large content companies to contribute to network costs.

The latest open letter on the issue targeted at European Union regulators was signed by the heads of 20 players including Telefonica, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, A1 Telecom Austria Group, Vodafone Group, KPN, Telecom Italia, Telia, Telenor and Orange.

Alongside calls for so-called “fair share” contributions from the largest traffic generators, the executives want a revision of spectrum policy from authorities and the acceptance of a “need for scale to avoid market fragmentation”.

The chiefs indicated this regulatory overhaul would aid “Europe’s industrial champions and SMEs to compete globally”.

Among familiar arguments in the latest document were the need for 5G and fibre to underpin the next wave of digital transformation, and support emerging applications in AI, VR and IoT. The operators also pointed to a relentless increase in demand for data.

Citing European Union (EU) estimates stating at least €174 billion of new investment would be needed to deliver EU 2030 connectivity targets, the group claimed “the telecoms sector is currently not strong enough to meet that demand, with many operators barely earning their cost of capital”.

The executives noted they want rules to target only the very largest content companies and should be in compliance with net neutrality regulations.

Calls from the players are the latest arguments made by mobile industry heavyweights in favour of fair share: unsurprisingly large content providers have been less welcoming of potential legislation in this area, claiming they make other contributions.

The issue has been pushed heavily by the mobile industry over the last 18 months and is currently being debated by European authorities as part of a wider look at the sector.