KPN CEO calls for Apple, Google to help fund networks

Apple and Google should help to upgrade and maintain mobile data networks, according to KPN CEO Eelco Blok.

"They use our networks without having to make any investment. This is an untenable situation in the telecom sector," Blok said in an interview with . "I think that companies should contribute, but I do not know how."

According to the Dutch online news service De Telegraaf, Blok said both Apple and Google use the mobile networks to offer their iMessage and Google Talk services without any consideration as to the infrastructure costs involved or the data traffic these apps generate.

Blok also referred to the rapid and unpredicted uptake of the instant messaging WhatsApp service, and the impact it had on KPN Mobile's text messaging revenues. "Last summer, zero per cent of our customer base used WhatApp, now almost all of our younger smartphone customers have the service installed," he said.

KPN Mobile's consumer director, Marco Visser, has also become involved with the debate, claiming that mobile data charges would need to rise in order to guarantee quality. Visser says that to maintain network investment levels customers would need to spend an average of €40 per month, against a current average of €24 per month. 

To achieve this increase in ARPU, KPN Mobile has indicated it will move away from selling minutes and downloaded megabytes, to tariffs based upon connectivity. Visser acknowledges that this shift needs to be communicated carefully to the customer to avoid confusion.

Blok added that this change to pricing structure was needed: "It's really inevitable to maintain the quality of the network."

In July France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard backed away from earlier comments that suggested that the larger Internet players were expecting mobile operators to make the huge network investments required to support mobile content traffic. FT's relationship with Internet giants such as Google is not one of conflict, Richard said in July, adding that there is great potential for win-win partnerships with operators.

For more:
- see this De Telegraaf article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this Telecom Paper article

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