Three approaches EC over exclusion from UK m-commerce JV

Three approaches EC over exclusion from UK m-commerce JV

UK mobile operator Three has complained to the European Commission about an m-commerce joint venture set up by rivals Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere.

The companies established their JV in June in a bid to encourage mass-market adoption of mobile marketing and payment services, with a launch planned for later this year.

According to the Financial Times, the operators are expected to submit a formal notification of their offering to the EC within the next few weeks. It will then be decided whether Europe or the UK's Office of Fair Trading looks into the issue.

Three - which was not invited by its larger rivals to join the group - has moved to scupper the JV, approaching the European Directorate General for Competition.

Stephen Lerner, director, regulatory affairs, Three, says: "Instead of competing for the benefit of consumers, the three operators that hold 90% of the UK market have engaged in a cosy collaboration and closed ranks against competition. The Competition authorities in Brussels should not allow this type collaboration to go forward under any circumstances."

In a statement, Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere say they have restricted membership to ensure the venture is up and running as quickly as possible but that the services they develop, and the technology used, will be made available to third parties, including Three.

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