Mobile Operators Plan Google rival?

Telegraph UK speculates that several European mobile carriers -- including Vodaphone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and one American network, Cingular -- will meet in Barecelona this week to discuss building a mobile search engine to rival Google and Yahoo. The carriers would need to band together to offer enough inventory to rival the search engines, but any joint venture of that scale would be hard to pull off, especially in the short term.

The article suggests that another idea would be to back an existing search engine and use their combined bargaining power to achieve favorable terms.

Both Google and Yahoo have been steadily signing up mobile partners. Google began testing mobile AdWords in eight different countries last year. And Google execs, for their part, have said repeatedly that their goal is launch mobile products, such as Gmail mobile, that would help carriers sell data plans.

In an interview with Reuters last year, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said he believed cell phones could be free if users choose to accept advertising.