COMPETITION on the Slovak mobile market will increase as the auction of 4G network frequencies fetched not only bigger than expected revenues for the state coffers, but also a fourth operator. While the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TÚ) will reveal its name only in January after the licenses for successful operators become valid, the Trend weekly cited an unidentified source in reporting that the new player is multimedia operator Swan.

While the auction ended two weeks ago, none of the operators can comment on its outcome until TÚ officially publishes the results. TÚ is waiting for the one-month-long period for issuing licences to the successful companies to elapse. The official results could be known at the beginning of 2014, according to the Sme daily.

All three existing telecom operators Slovak Telekom, Orange Slovensko and Telefónica Slovakia, providing its services under the brand name O2, obtained frequencies. While the state expected to get €142.2 million for 38 frequencies suitable for LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology, also marketed as 4G, the actual revenue is around €210 million.

Slovak Telekom has obtained the highest number of frequencies, Sme wrote on December 17. Based on the daily’s information, Swan succeeded in the auction, but it did not obtain enough frequencies to build its own network competitive with the three other operators. It may happen that Swan would use 4G networks of the established operators as the authority reportedly will order successful operators to provide their new networks also to virtual operators, Sme wrote.

LTE brings higher transmission speeds and capacities and better internet connections via mobile networks. Based on license conditions, the successful operators should build their 4G networks in order to cover one-quarter of the population by the end of 2015. The authority should also set the minimum speed in the license, which should not decrease below 2 megabits per second, what means that downloading of a 15-megabyte file should last one minute, according to Sme.

The three established mobile operators have already tested LTE technology and it is expected that they will start to provide services on the 4G network as early as February.

Thanks to the frequencies it gained, Slovak Telekom will be able to provide mobile internet at the speed of about 130 megabits per second, which is comparable to optical connection, Sme wrote.
Swan was one of companies mentioned as those companies interested in 4G. When the auction was in preparation, Slovak companies Slovanet and Towercom also showed interest. The Vietnamese Viettel operator also wanted to build the 4G network in Slovakia.

Swan’s story

Swan, which has operated on the Slovak market since 2000, provides fixed as well as wireless services. In some Slovak towns it has fibre-optic networks on which it provides internet and TV services. It is already active on the mobile market as a branded reseller when it offers mobile services provided by Telefónica Slovakia under the name Swan Mobile.

So far Telefónica Slovakia was the youngest mobile operator in Slovakia. It started to provide services in 2007.

After the change of the ownership of Telefónica Slovakia announced in November, when PPF, owned by Czech businessman Petr Kellner, officially confirmed the purchase of the Czech and Slovak branches of the mobile operator Telefónica, the LTE auction is a second major milestone on the Slovak mobile market this year.

With press reports