Cisco concerned about Skype, Microsoft Lync integration

Exclusive integration "could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype's 700 million account holders," says Cisco, which has appealed the European Commission's OK of the merger.

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

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

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Cisco worries about Skype, Microsoft Lync integration".

 

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