European operators have not talked about creating a single network with competition authorities, according to a Reuters, although they have expressed an interest in greater consolidation.
A Financial Times report earlier this week said leading operators had discussed with Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition chief, the idea of creating a pan-European infrastructure. The aim would be to offer better integration between Europe’s national telecoms markets.
However the later report, quoting unnamed sources, says the meeting had focused on whether the number of operators in Europe could shrink through mergers and takeovers, a process requiring regulatory scrutiny.
The meeting, which took place at the end of November last year, had involved leading operators including Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, KPN and Belgacom, as well as Almunia.
The idea of establishing a single European network was a theoretical discussion, according to one source with a greater focus of talks on consolidation and network sharing.
A spokesman for Almunia confirmed that competition in the telecoms sector had been on the agenda, in particular the subject of consolidation and how the commission scrutinises mergers.
He added that Almunia had raised the subject of creating a single market in telecoms with operators, who run their subsidiaries on a national basis.
Operators have been asking the EC for more leeway on consolidation, while Almunia wants to encourage greater efficiency through network-sharing rather than merger activity.