Eurotel invests heavily to prepare for competition

Looking to double its customer base before its contract as Slovakia's exclusive cellular phone systems provider expires next year, EuroTel plans to spend more than 250 million Sk ($8.5 million) in 1996 - the largest annual investment in the company's five year history. The company, owned 51 percent by Slovak Telecommunications and 49 percent by the American companies Bell Atlantic International and U.S. West International, is looking to increase from 10,000 mobile phone customers now to 21,000 by the end of 1996, when the market will be opened to competitors.

Looking to double its customer base before its contract as Slovakia's exclusive cellular phone systems provider expires next year, EuroTel plans to spend more than 250 million Sk ($8.5 million) in 1996 - the largest annual investment in the company's five year history.

The company, owned 51 percent by Slovak Telecommunications and 49 percent by the American companies Bell Atlantic International and U.S. West International, is looking to increase from 10,000 mobile phone customers now to 21,000 by the end of 1996, when the market will be opened to competitors.

The Slovak government is likely to grant licenses to at least one or two companies at the end of next year, according to Katarina Grosmannová of EuroTel's public relations department. She said EuroTel is strengthening its position in order to receive one of those licenses. Grosmannová said the company expects competition to be similar to that in the Czech Republic, where a dozen companies are competing for the second license while EuroTel Czech Republic will likely retain the first.

But while it invests in gaining more customers, EuroTel will also be preparing for a technological shift. The company will offer the Global Mobile System (GSM), which works on 900 megahertz and is accepted worldwide, instead of only the currently-available Nordic Mobile Telephone network, which operates on 450 megahertz. The move will allow mobile phone users in Slovakia to hook up with the rest of the world, which is not possible under the current system.

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