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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Europe's biggest telecom companies are planning a mobile phone search engine to rival U.S. giants Google and Yahoo. The companies are hoping to grab a large slice of the market for online advertising. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

STEPHEN BEARD: The group has a total of 600 million cell phone users. Among the companies involved: Vodafone, France Telecom and Deutsche Telecom.

According to press reports, they want to launch their own mobile search engine. They will meet at a big trade fair in Spain next week to hammer out the details.

This, says Tom Standage of the Economist Magazine, is the latest stage in a long quest. For years the cell phone operators have been looking for a way of selling data to their customers.

TOM STANDAGE: They're saying, well obviously advertising is the way to do it, but look Google is there first. We need to build a Google-like way of selling advertising onto the screens of mobile phones, and that's how we'll finally make money out of this.

But he points out the last attempt to gang up against Google failed when the French and the German governments also tried to launch a European search engine and swiftly abandoned the effort.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.