New agency plans frequency sales in 2010

13 Aug 2010

The deputy head of Hungary’s new media and telecoms authority, Gabor Matrai, has revealed the country will auction wireless frequencies in the 450MHz band before the end of the year as well as the remaining 900MHz spectrum it failed to sell off last year. The official, who is a member of the newly created National Media and Telecommunications Authority (NMHH), created from the merger of telecommunications watchdog NHH and broadcasting authority ORTT, said a tender for frequencies will be called before end-2010. The new watchdog is also hoping to resurrect plans to license a fourth mobile operator in the country to compete with incumbents – T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telenor (Pannon).

Last month the National Development Ministry said the government had plans to launch a new tender for the country’s fourth mobile frequency before the year end, after failing to close its previous tender amidst the financial crisis in 2009. The NHH first launched a tender for the fourth licence in October 2008, but after a series of delays the whole plan unravelled spectacularly in March 2009 amid concerns that a newcomer would struggle in the economic climate. The NHH said at the time it was unwilling to take the risk of the winner failing because of the global economic credit crunch, a decision that was a bitter blow to the would-be entrants.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian authorities are also considering a plan to license frequencies in the 900MHz band for mobile broadband and internet access services in 2010, subject to the planned implementation of new EU-wide regulations being adopted. The regulator believes there is a ‘realistic chance’ that such a tender could increase budget revenue for 2010, the draft budget for which includes HUF20 billion (USD108.6 million) of concession revenue from the mobile broadband tender.

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