Mergers between dominant telcos and significant IT suppliers will be inevitable but today?s competition law and regulations may not be strong enough to prevent consumers getting an unfair deal.
According to Don Cruickshank, director general at telecomms watchdog Oftel, mergers between the likes of BT with IT giants such as Microsoft - two firms whose names have already been linked --is ?inevitable?.
Cruickshank was speaking at Oftel?s first public meeting to outline its work over the next 12 months, although Cruickshank will step down in March. The event was attended by telcos and consumer bodies.
Cruickshank told the audience such mergers between two significant players would be up to the European Commission to investigate but warned that current competition law and telecomms regulations may not be wide enough to tackle issues raised by the convergence of telecomms, broadcasting and IT.
He said: ?I think such mergers are inevitable. The issue of controlling access to the network is much to do with IT as it has with telecomms.?
The watchdog was also critical of the lack of true competition among mobile operators which according to one disgruntled user are still charging the same high tariff as they were when they came into the market. Cruickshank agreed that high prices were still an issue and admitted that the lack of competition has been ?one of the disappointments in my five years? as director general?.
Among the issues Oftel will tackle is fixed mobile convergence -- that means agreements between fixed and mobile operators to resell each other's services -- and to advise the government on the next wave of communications technology.
However, the time spent on consumer protection will reduce.
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