Could Europe’s mobile operators please just give up and become one big operator?

Here’s a portion of Matt’s story from The Next Web:

Despite owning large shares of independent markets across Europe, the continent’s major operators have reportedly entered talks with the view to creating an EU-wide mobile network capable of uniting national markets, the FT reports.

According to the newspaper, telecoms executives from Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telefonica met with the EU’s competition chief to discuss the idea, which would better allow the companies involved to compete in a fragmented European market.

via Europe’s four biggest operators reportedly in talks to create EU-wide mobile network – The Next Web.

It’s a brilliant idea. It might finally remove the stupidly federated manner by which the current mobile operators do business.

Descriptive phrases like “France Telecom” or “Vodafone” actually mean nothing. Yes there’s a legal entity — but most of the decisions that actually matter are taken (or, actually, not taken — for fear of failure) by individual country directors.

Vodafone Global, for example, consists of a lot of very well meaning people who have little influence over the day-to-day reality of the folk managing Vodafone Czech or Vodafone United Kingdom.

Tying everything up into one central European operator group — whereby we had two or three key “huge” players — that would probably, actually, get us a better service.

Yes there’d be monopoly or duopoly concerns, but frankly, it’s screwed at the moment.

I had to smile to myself at Matt’s comment that such a move would ‘open the door to lower roaming charges’. Very quickly I would hope that the notion of geography would disappear.

Once you’ve got a European-wide player, or series of players, then things can get a lot more interesting.

I could imagine Apple, Google, anyone, sitting down to the negotiating table to discuss bundling deals or any number of cool, exciting activities.

Right now though, it’s a flipping nightmare.

Just try negotiating a European deal for your 25,000 employees with Vodafone, Telefonica or whoever. With few exceptions, it’s a flipping nightmare.

There’s other possibilities too. It could be interesting to separate out the actual network infrastructure from the services layer. That might offer a lot more flexibility and opportunity for innovation.

This kind of discussion is broadly a good idea. Anything that involves changing the (often broken) status quo is a good idea.

What do you think?

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