The European Commission has turned its eye towards some of the European Union’s biggest telecommunications companies.
The antitrust regulator has begun looking into Vodafone, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica following fears the companies got too cosy back in 2010. It is thought they may have had some back-door whisperings and strategising which could have led to possible anticompetitive collusions against competitors.
It is believed that the group, who collectively was called E5, huddled together in October 2010, where they talked about strategy and standardisation. They came together following fears about the growing competition from new messaging technologies showcased by Apple and Google.
However, E5 claims that it has done nothing untoward, claiming that there were lawyers present at all meetings.
MWC-sponsorer the GSMA is also being questioned. A spokesperson for the GSMA told us: “Given the nature of the GSMA as a trade body representing the interests of the mobile operators, we frequently correspond and meet with the European Commission on a number of topics.
“We can confirm that we have recently received correspondence from DG Competition which we will respond to in due course but as I am sure you will appreciate, this is a confidential matter and not one that we can discuss any further.”
All involved may come out unscathed. The EC is just gathering information for the moment. If it finds something untoward then a formal investigation will begin.