Ailing Czech CDMA operator Air Telecom (formerly U:fon), which has been a subsidiary of Nordic Investors since mid-2016, has revealed its latest plan to resurrect the company’s fortunes, including another rebrand to Nordic Telecom and a longer term ambition to launch its own 4G LTE network. In a press release, the new owners confirmed their intention to invest ‘hundreds of millions of crowns’ to deploy its own infrastructure, targeting 2018 as a possible commercial launch date – backed with full interconnect agreements with the country’s three main mobile network operators. In the interim phase, Air Telecom intends to operate a 4G MVNO service but notes that the key change will occur in the first quarter of 2018, when the existing CDMA network switches to LTE technology, which the company says will allow it to offer mobile internet speeds several times higher than at present.
Air Telecom currently operates a CDMA network and claims coverage of between 85%-90% of the Czech Republic and a maximum data transfer speed of 3.1Mbps. It has had something of a chequered history. In December 2012 Air Telecom, a subsidiary of F & N Marketing Group, took over the ownership of MobilKom (U:fon) from former owner Divenno Cyprus Holdings (operating via another Czech operator, Dial Telecom). The Cypriot holding company had itself taken over from private equity firm Penta Investments in July 2011 after agreeing a deal to acquire 100% of the company in February that year. Air Telecom paid CZK21 million (USD821,000) for U:fon in a deal that saw its debts of CZK2 billion also written off.