Carriers plan to develop alternative mobile search engine

Europe's biggest telecommunications groups are aiming to create a mobile phone search engine that could challenge Yahoo and Google, a report from the Sunday Telegraph said.

The Sunday Telegraph report said Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and one American network, Cingular, are among the companies that will come together for secret, high-level talks at the mobile industry's biggest annual trade show in Barcelona next week.

Faced with declining revenues as calls become cheaper, network operators are determined to secure a large slice of the lucrative search advertising market, the report said.

In the UK alone, more than 20% of subscribers are expected to have access to mobile Internet at broadband speeds by the end of 2007, which should prompt a dramatic increase in the use of search engines via mobile phones, the report said.

The initiative will come as a surprise to Google and Yahoo, which have lost no time in striking deals with mobile operators and handset makers, the report said.
But the mobile industry believes it can retain a greater share of advertising revenues by developing its own service.

A joint approach is essential, because mobile networks will need to offer advertisers a large audience if they are to challenge the US search giants. The four big operators in Britain, Orange, owned by France Telecom, O2, part of Spain's Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile and Vodafone, will all be represented at the meeting next week, the report said.