Europe's top antitrust watchdog is mulling over an investigation against the European Union's five biggest telecommunication companies for possible anticompetitive collusion against potential competitors including Apple and Google.
The Commission has sent out questionnaires wanting information on meetings between Vodafone, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica could have amounted to collusion. The GSMA, a trade body that represents telecommunications operators, has also been quizzed.
This fact finding is normally the first stage of a formal investigation. The five first met in October 2010 and apparently discussed strategy and standardisation issues.
It was nicknamed the E5 and was concerned about growing competition from new messaging technologies from Apple and Google. The group says that lawyers were present at all meetings and that minutes were sent to the Commission.
This indicates that the E5 knew they were sailing dangerously close to something the antitrust regulators would not like and did not want to end up like an Italian cruise liner piloted by a bloke from Naples, who is seeing a nice blonde crew member for drinks.