An unconfirmed report yesterday (17 December 2013) from Slovak news service Ekonomika.sme.sk said that one unnamed new mobile entrant may have won 4G frequencies alongside the three established Slovakian network operators following an auction held by the Telecommunications Office of the Slovak Republic (TU SR), although the regulator will not be officially announcing the results until the first week of 2014. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in late-August the TU SR published its call for submission of tenders for the issue of 4G mobile operating licences in the frequency bands 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz via electronic auction, with a deadline for submission expiring on 7 October. According to the local newspaper, in an auction held earlier in December, Slovak Telekom won the largest tranche of frequencies, followed ‘closely’ by Orange and Telefonica O2 Slovakia, which last month fell under new ownership of Czech-led investment group PPF. A one-month validation period must expire before any official disclosures on the auction results are made.
Regarding speculation on a potential fourth mobile licensee, CommsUpdate previously reported that three domestic companies – broadband operator SWAN, broadcast transmission provider Towercom and cable TV/internet provider Satro – had expressed their interest in the 4G auction, while yesterday’s newspaper report similarly highlighted Towercom as a likely participant alongside another domestic ISP, Slovanet. Vietnamese group Viettel also previously expressed interest, but Ekonomika cites the Slovakia-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce as indicating that there has been no activity on Viettel’s proposed project since last year, while a spokesperson at the Vietnamese embassy in Slovakia with knowledge of the matter stated that ‘Viettel at this point has no investment project in Slovakia.’ A prospective US-based bidder, VelaTel (active in the Croatian wireless broadband market), did not take part in a pre-tender consultation, while Slovak private equity fund J&T, local altnet GTS Slovakia and cableco UPC Slovakia were also previously said to be interested in the auction although did not contribute to the consultation, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database adds. PPF had originally been the frontrunner to bid as the fourth entrant before effectively ruling itself out with the takeover of Telefonica’s Czech Republic and Slovakian operations.