EU antitrust body to question five major telcos, no investigation as yet

15 Mar 2012

Reuters reports that European Union (EU) antitrust regulators yesterday announced that they have requested information from five major European telcos – Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom-Orange, Telefonica, Vodafone and Telecom Italia – concerning the standardisation of future services, but added that no formal investigation has been launched at this point. As well as targeting the five operators, the EU agencies are also keen to speak to the GSMA group, representing all of Europe’s GSM operators, the report said. Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for competition matters at the European Commission, is quoted as saying: ‘The requests for information relate to the manner in which standardisation for future services in the mobile communications area is taking place.’ In brief, the EU is concerned that a series of meetings held by the telcos since 2010 on strategy and technical co-operation may constitute collusion. Although billed as an information-gathering exercise at this stage – and not a formal probe – the move in an indicator of how relations between Brussels and the region’s incumbent operators are at a low ebb amid ongoing disputes over roaming charges and how best to finance costly network rollouts.