Cloud considers T-Mobile complaint

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The Independent Online

The wi-fi operator The Cloud may lodge a formal complaint with the German regulator against T-Mobile, the mobile telecoms division of Deutsche Telekom. The two companies compete in the mobile broadband market and the fast-growing British company believes T-Mobile is using its economic muscle to stifle competition.

George Polk, founder and chief executive of The Cloud, said: "T-Mobile is spending an uneconomic amount of money to compete with us." He said the company would consider complaining to the German telecoms regulator over the coming weeks but added that there could be a better way to resolve the situation.

The Cloud is one of Europe's largest wi-fi network providers and works with incumbent telecoms operators to provide access to its network of hot spots through wholesale agreements. The Cloud's network provides users with wireless broadband access, allowing business customers to use laptops in coffee shops and hotels. It has built a wi-fi network in London's Canary Wharf area and recently won a contract to build a network in London's financial district that was contested by BT and T-Mobile.

Mr Polk, who founded The Cloud in 2003, said despite competing against incumbent operators for contracts, the company maintains a good relationship with such companies across Europe. The Cloud has worked closely with BT in the UK since 2003 and recently signed up Norway's Telenor as a customer.

It entered Germany in early 2005 by acquiring a small wi-fi company. But it has found competing against the aggressive German incumbent tough.

Mr Polk said that despite The Cloud's strong growth over the past two years, he still does not expect a flotation of the business for at least 18 months. It received funding from the private equity companies 3i and Accel Partners when it expanded into continental Europe. Mr Polk said the company is likely to raise more capital over the coming months to fund further expansion of its network into Spain, France and Italy.