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Euro antitrust watchdog sniffs telcos' back-door hot air

Voda, Telefónica and chums quizzed over cosy confabs

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Antitrust officials in Brussels are gathering evidence from five telcos operating in the European Union to determine whether the companies have been in cahoots.

The European Commission told The Register that it asked for information from Deutsche Telekom, France Télécom, Telefónica, Vodafone and Telecom Italia. It also called for details from the mobile operators' association, the GSMA.

"The requests for information relate to the manner in which standardisation for future services in the mobile communications area is taking place," a spokeswoman from the commission's competition office said.

She stressed that no formal proceedings were underway, adding: "These fact-finding steps do not mean that we have competition concerns at this stage, nor do they prejudge the follow-up."

According to the Financial Times, the telecom companies targeted in the initial EC inquiry met occasionally from 2010 onwards for relatively benign confabs on issues including mobile payment platforms.

The antitrust wing at Brussels reportedly has concerns that these chats may have also involved alleged collusion. ®

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