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European operators considering single pan-regional network

Europe’s leading operators are considering the creation of a pan-European infrastructure partnership to better integrate national telecom markets, says a report in the Financial Times.

The idea followed a meeting between Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition chief, and top executives from operators such as Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telefonica and Telecom Italia.

However, the report says establishing a EU-wide network-sharing agreement “would be fraught with financial and technological obstacles, given the myriad differences in infrastructure and national rules”.

But such a move would bring Europe more in line with the US and China which have just three or four large operator groups, says the FT. Such an arrangement might also deliver consumer benefits in terms of single-rate pricing.

While opposed to national mergers that reduce competition, Almunia has indicated more enthusiasm for cross-border tie-ups that support a single, integrated EU market, a key aim for the commission.

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