Google moves to calm mobile operators, hints at network investment

The growing unrest among Europe's mobile operators may have been partially doused following indications from Google that it might be willing to co-operate in future network investments.

Speaking to Bloomberg at the Paris-based e-G8 Forum, France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard, said that a recent "very open" meeting with Google CEO Larry Page had convinced him that a deal was possible. According to Richard, Page suggested that he might be willing to co-operate, and Richard hinted that this didn't exclude the possibility of working together to develop a plan for network investments sometime in the future.

"We are not the enemies of Google," Richard said. "They understand that if we don't find a solution, it's not in their interest either."

Adding weight in support of France Telecom, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said at the conference that his government wouldn't take steps that would damage growth in the Internet content industry. However, he warned: "But you can't escape a minimum set of rules," adding that technology companies "need to hear our limits, what our red lines are."

In an attempt to provide a counterargument, Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman,aid that operators were nonetheless benefiting from the surge in demand for data offerings. "I would argue that the winners are the people who are seeing enormous revenue growth rates," he said. "The fact of the matter is large telecom companies, and large companies in my industry, are seeing large revenue growth rates."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this MarketWatch article

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