Cisco Wants EU to Place Conditions on Already Approved Microsoft/Skype Deal


Last October, Microsoft won final approval from the European Commission to go ahead with its acquisition of the popular VoIP service Skype. Now, however, this approval is being challenged by network equipment maker Cisco. While Cisco says it doesn't oppose the merger, it does want the European Commission to place "conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability." The Italian VoIP and fixed-line provider Massagenet also joined Cisco's appeal.

When the original deal was unconditionally approved, the Europen Commision explicitly noted that "there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present."

Cisco: Afraid that Microsoft Could "Control the Future of Video Communications"

Cisco, according to its appeal, worries that Microsoft/Skype could "seek to control the future of video communications." That seems to be quite a stretch given how vibrant this market is. While Microsoft will integrate Skype into its mobile operating system, there is little reason to believe that it could "control the future of video communications." Maybe Cisco is more worried about losing an edge in the enterprise market once Microsoft integrates Skype into its productivity solutions for large companies.

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European Parliament Wants to Cut Mobile Roaming Fees


With networks that typically span the whole country and plans that generally shield U.S. mobile phone users from paying extra roaming fees these days, being outside of your provider's reach isn't much of a problem on this side of the Atlantic (though there may be some changes afoot here, too). In Europe, though, where users travel between different countries on a regular basis, roaming fees can add up quickly. Now, the European Commission wants to cut the fees that telecom operators can charge. According to Reuters, the EU Parliament wants to reduce the rates telecom companies can charge to an even lower point than EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes proposed last year.

"The charge for a one-minute outgoing call when abroad", says Reuters, "would be 15 cents compared with Kroes's plan for a one-third cut to 24 cents. The cost of surfing the Internet would be slashed to 20 cents per megabyte from 50 cents."

Currently, the caps for roaming charges are 35 cents for outgoing calls and 11 cents for incoming calls. The new proposal would also cap the rates for Internet usage to about 20 cents per megabyte.

Unsurprisingly, the telecom industry is currently lobbying for smaller rate cuts while the EU Parliament is working on reconciling Kroes' and the parliament's proposal.

Kroes' proposal also includes a provision for 'decoupling,' which would allow consumers to switch providers when they cross the border. This would make international travel a lot easier (and cheaper) for Europeans and completely circumvent the roaming problem in the first place.

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Google Confirms FTC Antitrust Inquiry, But Says Reasons are “Unclear”


There were some rumors earlier this week that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was about to launch a formal antitrust investigation into Google’s “core search advertising business.” Today, Google confirmed that it has indeed received formal notification from the FTC that “it has begun a review of [its] business.” In its official statement, Google notes that it’s “unclear” what exactly the FTC’s concerns are, but if an earlier Wall Street Journal report is correct, the FTC is especially interested in investigating if Google has abused its dominant position in the search advertising space. (more…)

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