Mobile networks ‘mull new-build search engine’

European mobile phone networks could start their own mobile search service as they consider how to increase revenue from search advertising, according to a report.

The companies will use the 3GSM World Congress, the world’s largest mobile industry exhibition and conference, in Barcelona next week to consider a joint initiative aimed at replacing lost revenue from falling access costs with that from on-the-move ads.

The Sunday Telegraph reports one option is to build their own infrastructure:

The networks may decide to go with an existing search engine and use their combined might to secure a majority slice of the income. Another idea up for discussion is the creation of a white label service, with a single advertising sales house and technical team, to which mobile networks could then apply their own brand.

“A UK executive at one of the companies involved said: ‘There is a big play in mobile search that we need to be part of, and we are exploring those options at a very high level.'”

The networks face a big task if they do decide to go it alone rather than partner with one of the existing search sites, but they do have time on their side.

Google last year entered negotiations with Orange, though talk of a “Google Phone” was probably overheated and the Mountain View giant has inked deals to provide its search facility on Vodafone and 3 handsets in the UK but is still testing mobile search advertising.

Yahoo!, too, is striking deals with networks to carry its new Go 2.0 mobile service on handsets and is also in a testing phase on mobile search ads.