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Orange asks for UMTS payment delay

MOBILE operator Orange Slovensko has asked the market regulating Telecoms Office for later payment of its recently granted 'third-generation' UMTS wireless license, arguing that the Slovak government does not plan to release the frequencies until 15 months after the licenses are paid for.

"We need to split the price of the license, Sk1.5 billion, into three installments. We will settle two of them this year while we will pay the remaining Sk500 million only after the release of the frequencies. We do not consider it fair to pay already now for something we will get after more than one year," said Orange general director Pavol Lančarič.

Orange competitor EuroTel Bratislava, which was granted a UMTS license in June along with the start-up firm Profinet.sk, does not plan to submit a request and says it accepts the licence terms.

Telecoms Office spokesperson Roman Vavro said the agency would not comment on Orange's request until it has decided on it.

Profinet.sk, which was granted both GSM and UMTS licenses and plans to become Slovakia's third full-service wireless operator, has said it plans to launch its GSM network by Christmas, and UMTS service by the end of summer 2003, although project manager Peter Ostromecký has acknowledged that technical obstacles may delay service introduction.

While Profinet remains secretive about the source of its funding, Ostromecký said that the third operator's financial investor is an entity from western Europe. He also said the company was considering Siemens as their supplier of technology.

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