Intel faces a record 1.45 billion fine imposed by the EU on Tuesday for alleged anti-competitive practices designed to muscle its rival AMD out of the chipset market in Europe. The eight-year investigation into the company began in 2001 after AMD filed a complaint about Intel the year prior. Results of the EU investigation reveals that Intel used its dominant financial position to pay computer manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and NEC as well as smaller retailers to postpone, cancel or avoid using and/or selling AMD products. Neelie Kroes, the Europen Union competition commissioner, further added that Intel “went to great lengths to cover up its anti-competitive actions.” The EU ordered Intel to immediately cease its anti-competitive practices and pay the hefty fine, though the amount would be held in a bank account, during the ensuing appeal process. As expected, Intel responded on Wednesday denying the allegations and vowing to appeal both the financial award and the order to change its practices. In its statement, Intel agreed to abide by the EU’s decision during the appeal process. Hit the jump for the full text of Intel’s rebuttal.
In a scathing response to European Commissioner Viviane Reding’s report on the mobile industry in Europe, Vodafone claims 40M million users, most of them “poor” pay as you go customers, may have to cancel their mobile service if her proposed changes to call termination charges go into effect. Termination charges are the fees mobile operators charge each other (and land line companies) for connecting to their networks. Currently mobile operators in Europe charge each other an average of 8 cents per minute. Reding proposes a reduction of these fees to 1 to 2 cents per minute. A reduction in fees is usually perceived as a good thing except these fees account for 15 to 20% of an operators revenue. That’s a good chunk of change for the mobile operators and the loss of that guaranteed revenue source has them, (well, at least Vodafone) shaking in their boots and spouting forth rhetoric.
Here in the United States, there are not legal limits on what carriers can charge for roaming, and things can get pretty pricey if you’re on a regional plan (which most people are not). This gets to be more of a problem if you’re a social butterfly on a continent with a lot of small, densely clustered countries. Last year, the European Union introduced caps on what European carriers are allowed to charge customers who roam in the EU. The current limit is 49 euro cents per minute for outgoing calls (about 72 cents US) and is being reduced to 46 euro cents (about 67 cents US). Incoming calls currently may be billed at up to 24 euro cents (about 35 cents US) and will be dropped to 22 euro cents (about 32 cents US). Rejoice, as these limits go in to effect this Sunday, August 31. Further, the European Commission wants the EU to impose a cap on SMS roaming of about 11 to 15 euro cents (16 to 22 cents US). While the economic consequences of price ceilings are something better understood by, well, an economist, we do applaud lower tariffs (didn’t you know that you’re supposed to italicize foreign expressions?).
All of the above prices, of course, exclude European VAT (Value Added Tax), so quadruple them for a more accurate figure.