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BUSINESS FOCUS - IT & TELECOM

Mobile phone becoming interactive channel

SINCE 1997, EuroTel has operated in Slovakia's fully liberated mobile market. The industry is already highly competitive, so the current liberalisation is to predominantly affect the fixed-line operators, Juraj Droba, corporate affairs director of EuroTel, said in a brief interview with The Slovak Spectator.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What are the prospects of the Slovak telecom market? Does it have the potential to feed additional mobile operators?

SINCE 1997, EuroTel has operated in Slovakia's fully liberated mobile market. The industry is already highly competitive, so the current liberalisation is to predominantly affect the fixed-line operators, Juraj Droba, corporate affairs director of EuroTel, said in a brief interview with The Slovak Spectator.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What are the prospects of the Slovak telecom market? Does it have the potential to feed additional mobile operators?

Juraj Droba (JD): Mobile penetration in Slovakia is approaching 65%. Voice is still by far the dominant application, but Slovaks are becoming more acquainted with a wide variety of data services, mobile content, and various value-added services. The coverage of the country's population by GSM signal is almost complete. A mobile phone is no longer only a device enabling person-to-person communication; it turns into an interactive channel for sending and receiving data, photographs, accessing information, browsing the internet, administering e-mails, bank payments, etc.

The entry of another mobile operator has been reopened several times in the past. The government has done all it can to attract a strong investor to whom to grant the third mobile license. However, all serious international players have scrutinized the potential of the Slovak market and come to the conclusion that a return on their investment would not be feasible at the given time. One would have to invest significant amounts of money to build the infrastructure to cover the entire country with a GSM signal.

EuroTel and Orange are an example of how a fierce competitive battle brings tangible benefits to the customer. Slovaks can now enjoy some of the lowest prices for mobile communications in Europe. As far as availability of technology and innovations, Slovakia keeps pace with the most advanced mobile markets in Europe.

TSS: Compared to the telecom market of neighbouring countries, what are the specifics of the Slovak telecom market and the conditions for mobile operators?

JD: The Slovak market is developing in line with its neighbours - the Czech Republic has one of the highest penetrations in Europe, but Slovakia is doing better than, for example, Poland. The Slovak mobile market is very price-sensitive and the majority of customers only use the basic capabilities of mobile technology - voice and sms. On the positive side, those customers who are interested in using the latest mobile services have most of them available in Slovakia, just like customers in the most advanced countries.

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