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Cisco complains to the EU about Microsoft/Skype deal

Wants assurances Redmond won’t lock down video

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Cisco has issued a formal complaint to the General Court of the European Union over Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, saying it needs assurances that Redmond will play fair on standards.

“The industry recognizes the need for ubiquitous unified communications interoperability, particularly between Microsoft/Skype and Cisco products, as well as products from other unified communications innovators," said Marthin De Beer, Cisco vice president said on the corporate blog. “Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.”

He was keen to stress that there was no formal opposition to the merger and Cisco valued Microsoft as a partner. But nevertheless assurances are needed that interoperability standards for internet video transmission would be used by all players in the market to avoid stunting its growth. De Beer said that the industry was at a tipping point, with faster internet speeds becoming available across the globe, and by 2015 predicted a million minutes of video would be transmitted every second.

At last year's Oracle OpenWorld, Cisco CEO John Chambers called video the future of global communications and the company has been investing heavily in videoconferencing, or telepresence as it prefers to call it, for many years now. The business survived Cisco’s recent cull with only modest cuts and a reorganisation and it’s selling home systems and expensive business communications tablets, as well as high-end dedicated conferencing suites for those willing to splash out the cash.

Skype is a big driver for video calls, especially as it increasingly links with Facebook, and Microsoft has the potential to give Cisco some serious grief. Cisco reported sales of its communications products grew 10 per cent to $1.05bn last quarter and a lock-out would cripple its efforts in the area, particularly in light of the Tandberg acquisition.

“The European Commission conducted a thorough investigation of the acquisition, in which Cisco actively participated, and approved the deal in a 36-page decision without any conditions. We’re confident the Commission’s decision will stand up on appeal,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told The Register in a statement. ®

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