More than a dozen major European operators urged US tech giants to contribute in covering costs for deploying networks, claiming such investments are the only option to bring digital transformation in the region in a sustainable way.

In a joint statement, 13 CEOs of Europe-based operators including Vodafone Group, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and Telenor Group explained an increasing portion of network traffic is generated by big tech platforms, which calls for significant network investment and planning by the sector.

“This model, which enables EU citizens to enjoy the fruits of the digital transformation, can only be sustainable if such big tech platforms also contribute fairly to network costs”, the CEOs highlighted.

The group estimated operators’ investments in new infrastructure has hit a six-year high of €52.5 billion per year in Europe.

To boost the region’s play in technological innovation, the CEOs said “buying and regulating the technology built by others” did not suffice, and called for “concrete and immediate action” towards creating “home-grown digital infrastructure and services”.

The operators called for regulations to foster further investment in gigabit networks, which they estimated amounts to €300 billion and urged an end to “high spectrum prices and auctions that artificially force unsustainable entrants into the market”.

A recent European Parliament proposal to extend rules allowing free roaming services across the European Union was also slammed, with the group stating such a move would contradict the digital targets of the bloc for 2030.