THE SALE of three third generation UMTS mobile phone licences and one GSM licence will be launched in January and issued by the end of June, the Telecommunication Office said last week.
The Telecommunication Office will offer a package of one UMTS and one GSM licence in the tender and two separate UMTS licences.
The GSM-UMTS package will cost Sk1.5 billion ($31.6 million), while the UMTS licenses will cost Sk 1.5billion each.
Telecommunication Office spokesman Roman Vavro said the official invitation and the exact conditions of the licences will be published this month.
"The deadline for the offers should be March 25 and the licences will be issued by the end of the first half of the year," he said.
Slovakia's two current mobile phone providers, Globtel and Eurotel, are expected to take part in the UMTS contest, but Vavro said they did not have a pre-purchase right for the licences.
Jozef Barta, general director of mobile phone operator EuroTel Bratislava said late last year the new owner of the UMTS and GSM licences would face a number of obstacles. These would include high initial costs, in addition to the high price of the license and an investment in the UMTS network itself.
However, despite these costs, the tender prices remain a bargain in comparison to similar offers in central Europe. In December, following pressure from telecoms investors facing a global slump in the market, the Czech government sold licences for around $100 million each.
Other potential investors interested in the combined UMTS-GSM package include the Telesystem International Wireless, the operator of the Czech network Oskar and Telenor, whose participation will depend on the conditions of the tender.
UMTS is a third-generation telecommunication system, which besides traditional audio-communication introduces new services with high-speed data transfer, such as audio and video transmission.
14. Jan 2002 at 0:00 | Deirdre Tynan