EC abandons mobile networks standards collusion probe

8 Mar 2013

The European Commission (EC) has reportedly ditched an investigation into the region’s five largest mobile network operators, the so-called ‘E5’ – Deutsche Telekom (DT), France Telecom-Orange, Telefonica of Spain, Vodafone Group and Telecom Italia (TI) – after it raised concerns about how industry standards were set and applied by wireless service providers. In March 2012 the EC asked the E5 and the GSM Association (GSMA) to submit information on the way technology standards for future mobile services are being developed. The heads of four of the telcos involved met for the first time in Paris in October 2010, to discuss matters such O/S and their ability to handle an anticipated surge in data traffic on their networks amid the rise in popularity of social networking sites, mobile apps and the proliferation of smartphones.

Arising from this, the EC said yesterday that the decision by the E5 to transfer responsibility for formulating its planned standardisation process to the GSMA and other industry associations is a ‘positive step that reduces the risk of standard-setting work affecting competition negatively.’ Further, the Commission notes that the new set-up will allow for more stakeholder participation and as a result, it has decided to end its preliminary investigation.

In an emailed statement reported by Bloomberg, Philipp Blank, a spokesman for Bonn-based DT, said: ‘We welcome the [EC’s] decision,’ adding, ‘The meetings and discussions were always transparent and closely involved the commission.’

France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Deutsche Telekom (DT), Orange Group, Telecom Italia (TIM), Telefonica, Vodafone Group