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Mobile carriers have a big problem with online video, and Opera wants to make money helping them.

The web browser maker has signed a $155 million deal to buy rival Skyfire, whose software lowers mobile network data loads by reducing the size of streaming video.

While that’s great news for the likes of Verizon and AT&T (and their customers), the problem is that Skyfire has had a limited reach. The company currently works with three mobile operators in the U.S., and it’s testing its software with 10 more globally — so it’s not exactly taking over the world.

Opera, on the other hand, has over 100 carrier relationships across the globe, not to mention a large sales team and distribution network. This gives Skyfire a clear avenue to expand its software to far more carriers.

As Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck rightfully points out, these factors make Skyfire and Opera a perfect match. “Both companies have extensive focus on operator products well beyond our well-known consumer web browsers, with complementary geographic strengths,” he wrote in a post on the Skyfire blog.

With the completion of the Opera deal (expected by March 15), Glueck will become executive vice president of Opera’s operator business unit and retain his status as Skyfire CEO. Skyfire itself will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary, which means that it won’t have to abandon its mobile web browser anytime soon.

Photo: Flickr/Johan Larsson

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