European telecoms groups form smartphone panel - report

LONDON (Reuters) - European telecoms groups have set up an expert panel to monitor possible unfair practices in the smartphone market, the Financial Times said on Wednesday.

Citing people close to the operators -- Vodafone VOD.L, Telefonica TEF.MC, Telecom Italia TLIT.MI, France Telecom FTE.PA and Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE -- the FT said rapid advances made by Google's GOOG.O smartphone operating system, Android, and Apple's AAPL.O iOS platform were a focus of concern.

The European groups detailed their concerns in a letter to Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner in charge of Europe’s digital agenda, and may make reports to the European Commission, the FT said.

The letter, sent in October, makes no direct reference to Apple or Google, it added.

One person close to the European operators told the newspaper there was a risk that iOS and Android could establish a “duopoly” in the smartphone market.

Another person close to the operators said the expert group had been set up but said no evidence of unfair practices was apparent so far.

Neither Google nor Apple could be reached immediately for comment.

Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; editing by Carol Bishopric