Mobile operators worldwide are more than aware of the opportunities offered by selling payments and advertising services to retailers that are based on NFC. In the U.S., the Isis joint venture of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile is moving forward along that vector. In the UK, the top three mobile operators have announced they will form a mobile commerce joint venture by the end of the year. That announcement has rankled the number four mobile operator in the UK, so much so that the company, Three, has taken its complaint to the European Commission’s competitive authorities.
It will be very interesting to watch how mobile competition is regulated on both sides of the Atlantic. The FCC’s rejection of the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger is one example. This UK affair may be another.
Stephen Lerner, the regulatory affairs director of Three U.K., said he had traveled to Brussels to deliver a letter of concern to European competition authorities, asking them to thwart the venture, a combined effort by Telefónica of Spain, which runs the O2 service in Britain, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere, the No. 1 operator owned by Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom.
“Instead of competing for the benefit of consumers, the three operators that hold 90 percent of the U.K. market have engaged in a cozy collaboration and closed ranks against competition,” Mr. Lerner said.