Czech mobile broadband operator Nordic Telecom, the successor to the defunct brands of Air Telecom and U:fon, says it will launch its new LTE network next year, after completing the migration away from its CDMA-450 network – a technology it has been forced to admit, has ‘lost support among manufacturers’. Customers will get new devices and SIM cards at launch, Nordic Telecom says, as it looks to become a fourth mobile operator in the Republic. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month the Czech Telecommunication Office (Cesky telekomunikacni urad, CTU) announced the allocation of spectrum blocks in the 3.7GHz band (3600MHz-3800MHz) to four winning bidders including Nordic Telecom. The unit was subsequently assigned two 40MHz blocks in the 3720MHz-3760MHz and 3760MHz-3800MHz range, while the other winning bids came from O2 Czech Republic (1×40MHz block), another newcomer in the shape of PODA (1×40MHz), and Vodafone Czech Republic (1×40MHz); each 40MHz block cost CZK203 million (USD9.2 million).
Nordic Telecom expects to invest ‘hundreds of millions of crowns’ in the new service with its CEO Libor Dockalek confident that his company will be able to ensure the continuity of services and eliminate downtime during the upgrade, thanks to a decision to provide its services through its network partners during the rollout works. Under the terms of the licence awards the winners must roll out services within two years, and provide coverage of at least 40% of small towns and 45% of medium-sized municipalities (up to 10,000 inhabitants), after year five. The technology neutral licences are valid for an initial period of 15 years. Meanwhile, Nordic Telecom has set its sights on the horizon and the possible auctioning of 700MHz spectrum by end-2020, which it argues would give it a platform to become ‘a full-fledged competitor’ of the big three network operators.