Eurobites: Google Denies EU Charges

Also in today's regional roundup: Liberty Global and Vodafone still in talks; Inmarsat launches new satellite; Telkom mulls Cell C takeover; ECI wins SDN deal in Sweden.

  • Internet giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has denied it has been favoring its own search results over those of rivals during a long-running dispute with European Union authorities, according to a report from the New York Times. Google has been accused of acting anti-competitively by directing search-engine users to its own services rather than websites maintained by competitors such as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY). The company now insists it has sent billions of referrals to competitors' websites, but its share of the search market is said to be as high as 90% in Europe, while in the US it is estimated at just 65%. If Google is found to have been acting anti-competitively it could be fined billions of dollars, according to the NYT report.

  • Michael Fries, the CEO of cable group Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), was reported by Reuters to have said there is "no timeframe" on discussions about an asset swap with mobile operator Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). The two companies confirmed they were in discussions about a possible deal in June, with analysts speculating at the time that Vodafone might exit Germany and acquire Liberty's Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) business in the UK. Amid growing interest in converged services, both companies are eager to gain both fixed-line and mobile capabilities in the markets where they have a presence. (See Vodafone Could Buy Virgin Media, Quit Germany, Says Analyst and Vodafone in Asset-Swap Talks With Liberty.)

  • UK-based satellite operator Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT) believes today's launch of the new Global Xpress satellite will allow it to provide services in some of the remotest regions of the world, according to a story from Reuters. Besides offering services to new government and commercial customers, Inmarsat sees a major opportunity in providing connectivity to airline passengers and claims to be in talks with some 12 airlines about its service. The operator expects its new infrastructure to be generating additional revenues of around $500 million a year by 2020.

  • South Africa's Telkom SA Ltd. (NYSE/Johannesburg: TKG) is said to be considering acquisitions to shore up its mobile business, including a takeover of Cell C , the country's third-biggest mobile operator. Cell C owner Oger Telecom appears to be interested in selling the business and was earlier this week reported to have received bids from six companies. Operating South Africa's fourth-biggest mobile network, Telkom lacks the scale to challenge its bigger competitors and was dealt a blow earlier this month when authorities said they would oppose its plans to share infrastructure with rival MTN Group Ltd.

  • ECI Telecom Ltd. has supplied SDN technology to Sweden's Trafikverket, the government agency responsible for long-term planning of the country's transport network. Trafikverket runs a national fiber transport network that is available on a wholesale basis to any service provider. ECI's SDN applications -- branded LightINSIGHT and LightTIME and a part of ECI's LightAPPS range -- are intended to help Trafikverket improve network efficiency and further automate its network operations. See this press release for more details.

    — Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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