Cisco asks EU to rethink Microsoft-Skype

Cisco asks EU to rethink Microsoft-Skype

Summary: Cisco said that the European Commission should have imposed restrictions on Microsoft's purchase of Skype to prevent a potential monopoly on video calling.


Cisco said that the European Commission should have imposed restrictions on Microsoft's purchase of Skype to prevent a potential monopoly on video calling.

The networking giant, which competes with Skype and Microsoft with its WebEx software, said that it doesn't oppose the EU's approval of the merger, but it wants restrictions.

Cisco's Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's video and collaboration group, said in a blog post:

Imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier, or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others. Cisco wants to avoid this future for video communications, and therefore today appealed the European Commission's approval of the Microsoft/Skype merger to the General Court of the European Union. Messagenet, a European VoIP service provider, has joined us in the appeal.

We did not take this action lightly. We respect the European Commission, and value Microsoft as a customer, supplier, partner and competitor. Cisco does not oppose the merger, but believes the European Commission should have placed conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability, to avoid any one company from being able to seek to control the future of video communications.

A Microsoft spokesperson countered with the following statement:

The European Commission conducted a thorough investigation of the acquisition, in which Cisco actively participated, and approved the deal in a 36-page decision without any conditions. We're confident the Commission's decision will stand up on appeal.

Specifically, Cisco is seeking standards for interoperability for video calling so that Microsoft can't use proprietary protocols that could shut out rivals. Cisco has seen the effects of these standards up close. When Cisco bought Tandberg, one condition for regulatory approval was to publish its video-conferencing code. Now telepresence systems from the likes of Polycom can work well with Cisco's gear, and the market has materially changed.

On the corporate front, one of Cisco's biggest worries is that Microsoft integrates Skype with its Lync unified communications platform exclusively. That Skype-Lync connection "could lock in businesses who want to reach Skype's 700 million account holders".


Topics: Microsoft, Cisco, Networking, Unified Comms, Tech Industry

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  • What about apple with it's closed system and facetime? They don't support competitors at all. Why should microsoft suddenly be open to all?
    • Highlights the problem that such lockin only seem to be considered when reaching a 'monopoly situation, which of course any business might suddenly find itself in if others drop out, or their own product is clearly better (not necessarily technologically superior) for the great majority's purposes.

      I think we need to find a way that does not depend on market share, but makes sure that no company can lock out competition.

      However, how do we do that in a way that does not sabotage a useful facility before it gets off the ground.

      It is a difficult problem and hard to back-fit a solution when a lockedin setup is already in a whole lot of peoples' hands.