An order issued by a Hungarian court on Monday has put the brakes on would-be fourth mobile operator MPVI Mobil’s plans to use the 900MHz frequencies it was awarded in January this year. Hungarian newspaper Nepszabadsag reports that the decision by the court on 25 June to suspend the opening of the state-run operator’s network until the resolution of an appeal by Magyar Telekom (MTel) and Telenor Hungary (formerly Pannon), means that the newcomer cannot engage in any ‘meaningful work’ on its network, delaying its launch plans for several more weeks. MPVI Mobil is a state-backed consortium of power utility MVM, postal services operator Magyar Posta and a unit of Hungary’s development bank MFB. On 31 January the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) closed out the tender for 900MHz spectrum when it sold a 10.8MHz block of spectrum to MTel, Telenor and Vodafone, as well as to the would-be market entrant. The consortium won the ‘A block’, suitable for both internet and voice services, paying HUF10 billion (USD45.4 million), while the other three firms each secured spectrum from parts of the ‘less valuable’ ‘B block’, which is better suited to provide mobile internet access in rural parts of the country.
However, in February MTel (which owns mobile subsidiary T-Mobile), Telenor Hungary and Vodafone Hungary filed an appeal against the national telecom regulator’s award of mobile frequencies to the state-backed vehicle, questioning consortium’s right to participate in the auction as well as regulations on domestic roaming services for the new operator. A month later the NMHH seemingly rejected the cellcos’ joint appeal but MTel was not satisfied with the decision, and on 12 March – citing legal errors in the auction process and the decision – it filed a petition with the Metropolitan Court, requesting that the court ‘annul the designation of the consortium as an auction winner and certain relating requirements of the final decision; and that the Court suspend the enforceability of these same provisions’.