Eagle Mobile, the wireless arm of fixed line incumbent Albtelecom, has launched 3G services, the company announced yesterday, activating the nation’s first Dual Carrier (DC) HSPA+ network in Tirana, Tirana Airport and Fushe-Kruje. Eagle expects the service to be made available in Durres, Kavaje, Lac and Shkoder soon whilst coverage will be expanded throughout the country over the next few months. Leapfrogging the technology of entrenched rivals Vodafone Albania and Albanian Mobile Communications (AMC), which launched third-generation services in January 2011 and January 2012 respectively, Eagle’s network is capable of theoretical maximum download speeds of 42Mbps.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the piecemeal allocation of 3G licences has long been a bone of contention between Albania’s providers and sector regulator Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP), the watchdog’s policy of issuing individual licences seen as having a negative impact on competition. In August 2012, AKEP offered up the final two 3G licences to Eagle and the market’s most recent entrant PLUS Communication, setting a minimum price of EUR4 million (USD5.25 million). Eagle entered a bid EUR355 higher than the asking price, whilst PLUS surprised the watchdog’s bid evaluation committee with a token bid of just EUR1.