Cisco launches EU appeal against Microsoft-Skype merger

Cisco’s appealed to the EU against its approval of Microsoft’s takeover of Skype, saying it’s worried the deal will damage the video calling market.

It says the merged company should have been ordered to open up its network to callers from other platforms as a condition of regulatory approval. European VoIP service provider Messagenet has joined in the appeal at Europe’s General Court.

“For the sake of customers, the industry recognizes the need for ubiquitous unified communications interoperability, particularly between Microsoft/Skype and Cisco products, as well as products from other unified communications innovators,” says Cisco vice president Marthin De Beer.

“Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.”

The European Commission approved the deal last October, despite concerns that the deal would inhibit competition. But while Cisco says it doesn’t object to the merger per se, it wants some guarantees on interoperability.

“This appeal is about one thing only: securing standards-based interoperability in the video calling space. Our goal is to make video calling as easy and seamless as  email is today,” says De Beer.

“Making a video-to-video call should be as easy as dialing a phone number. Today, however, you can’t make seamless video calls from one platform to another, much to the frustration of consumers and business users alike.”

Cisco’s got a lot riding on this, with its VoIP and videoconferencing products competing directly with Skype. But its chances aren’t good: the general Court’s only heard one successful appeal in the last ten years.