Fourth mobile licensee this year, says regulator

22 Feb 2013

A spokesperson for the Telecommunications Office of the Slovak Republic (TU SR), Roman Vavro, has confirmed that successful bidders will be issued new mobile licences via the country’s eagerly anticipated 4G auction for 800MHz/1800MHz/2600MHz frequencies this year, in a process which the government hopes will attract a fourth national wireless network operator. In a report on HNonline.sk, Vavro was quoted as saying that the TU SR ‘plans to implement the electronic auction and issue the successful bidders permits in 2013’, although a firm timetable has still not been set despite previous statements from the regulator indicating the auction would be initiated in ‘early’ 2013. The spokesperson also indicated that a competitive tender for a consultancy/partner to oversee the electronic auction (which was launched in September) has now been completed. Vavro also noted that the government/regulator has been in regular contact with ‘consulting firms that represent foreign applicants wishing to enter the Slovak market.’ The same report quoted a spokesperson for Slovakia’s transport and communications ministry, Kona Martin, stating the case for a new market entrant: ‘We can say that the arrival of a new mobile operator usually leads to increased competition in the market. It might [affect] customers either in the form of lower prices of existing services or introducing new services.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database shows that under the TU SR’s proposals, an individual spectrum cap in the 1800MHz band is applicable, of 30.4MHz (2×15.2MHz) – which all three existing domestic cellcos already hold – therefore leaving the 1800MHz portion of the auction for a newcomer. There is a total of 38.8MHz (2×19.4MHz) of spare 1800MHz frequencies potentially available, but the TU SR has stated that it will offer a new entrant 2×15.2MHz to match the existing operators, in the interests of a fair market.

Vietnamese military-owned global telecoms group Viettel and the PPF Group headed by the Czech Republic’s richest man Petr Kellner are among the potential bidders linked with the upcoming auction, alongside the UK’s Vodafone Group, India’s Bharti Airtel and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, although none have publicly confirmed their intentions to bid. TeleGeography notes that in addition to Slovakia’s three established cellcos – Slovak Telecom (T-Mobile), Orange and Telefonica (O2) – two other Slovak telecoms operators, SWAN and UPC Slovakia, have indicated they will consider participation in the 4G auction, dependent on the final tender conditions.

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