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Business

Europe Telecoms weigh tie-up in network drive

Europe's top telecom groups are discussing the idea of creating a pan-European phone infrastructure, the Financial Times has reported. The move reportedly has the blessing of EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

The idea to unite Europe's fragmented telecommunications markets was born at a private meeting between EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia and the CEOs of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Spain's Telefonica, the Financial Times (FT) wrote Wednesday.

The British business newspaper quoted several people familiar with the meeting as saying the industry officials expressed their frustration about Europe's disjointed national markets, and agreed to bring constructive ideas of how a pan-European market could work.

They were encouraged by the EU Commissioner, who showed an openness to cross-border tie-ups to help create a single market, and to generate new services as well as drive digital investment, FT wrote.

For years, Europe's major telecommunications firms have been calling for the consolidation of national markets as their revenues dwindled, holding up critical investment in new infrastructure. However, national and EU regulators have repeatedly thwarted potential mergers for fear of market dominance of a few operators.

According to the Financial Times, Almunia suggested network-sharing agreements to promote efficiency gains. This would also benefit consumers through unified prices for telephone and internet services across Europe, the paper added.

uhe/kms (dpa, Reuters)