EC to investigate European operators over collusion

The European Commission is considering an investigation into major European operators over charges of possible collusion.

According to reports, the alleged collusion began in 2010 between executives from Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Vodafone. It is understood that one of the main topics was the threat of competition from Google and Apple.

Industry body the GSMA has confirmed that it recently received correspondence from the Directorate General for Competition, but is unable to add any context.

“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,” a spokesperson told

Robert Vidal, head of competition for EU and trade at law firm Taylor Wessing, said that it’s too early to say whether an investigation will follow, but warned that a high profile information request can be damaging to a company’s reputation. 

“This highlights that meetings between competitors will always be of potential interest to competition authorities and should be treated with extreme caution. Meetings between competitors are especially risky in a concentrated market where the participants are restricted to a few, major players.  It can give the wrong impression to customers as they may assume the telecoms companies are up to no good,” he said.

“This information request comes hot on the heels of the Commission’s rejection of a regulatory holiday for telecoms companies.  The industry has called for breathing space to allow it to invest in new infrastructure, but it may be that the Commission wants to send a clear signal that it is committed to open competition within the EU.”

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