Emerging European telecoms operators are in for a difficult couple of years, due to stiffer competition and entrenchment of the incumbent operators, predicts Cambridge, UK- based telecoms consultancy firm Analysys Ltd. The market is highly confused at the moment with over 30 new European telecoms ventures launched in the last year, and the company predicts that fairly soon there will be a wave of consolidation as the weaker players are absorbed, or forced out of the market. The lead competitive operator seems to be the industrial group Mannesmann AG, tipped by Merrill Lynch as hot world telecoms stock buy for 1998, for its established mobile and fixed ventures in France, Germany and Italy. The second major player, rated by Analysys as most active player in European telecoms, British Telecommunications Plc, holds equity stakes in seven European ventures currently. As a result of snowballing competition Analysys expects the national regulators to increasingly involved in mediating the nuts and bolts mechanics of getting incumbents to interconnect and settle with new entrants, as has been the UK regulator Oftel’s job since 1984. This emerging trend has already been clearly shown this year with the squabbles between Deutsche Telecom AG, its rivals and the regulator.
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