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BUSINESS FOCUS - NORWAY - GREATER LIBERALIZATION WOULD SPEED UP DEMAND FOR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS IN SLOVAKIA

The communication challenge

NORWEGIAN telecommunications company Telenor, which has been operating in Slovakia since 1995, is confident that demand for electronic communications in this country will increase. At the same time the company stressed that the liberalization of the telecommunications market will have to deepen if this process is going to speed up.


TELENOR started in Slovakia with satellite services.
photo: Courtesy of Telenor Networks

NORWEGIAN telecommunications company Telenor, which has been operating in Slovakia since 1995, is confident that demand for electronic communications in this country will increase. At the same time the company stressed that the liberalization of the telecommunications market will have to deepen if this process is going to speed up.

"In the 1990s Telenor regarded the potential of Central Europe as an interesting challenge and gradually established its daughter companies in several countries in the region - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Poland and, of course, in Slovakia. Currently, Telenor has commercial activities in 16 countries," Kim Erik Schliekelmann, general director of Telenor Networks, told The Slovak Spectator.

Schliekelmann believes that modern telecommunications networks are a part of modern life and business.

"No doubt, interest in these services will be growing in Slovakia. For example, mobile communication is quickly spreading. However, there has been some delay in the introduction of high-speed Internet access. Slovakia is lagging behind European states in the number of high-speed connections. But experts consider the overall outlook for the electronic communication market in Slovakia as good," he added.

Schliekelmann noted that the slow implementation of EU legislation in the area of electronic communications in Slovakia, mainly at the administrative and regulatory levels, could slow down the development of telecommunications services.

"It was the European Commission that pointed out this problem [negatively] influencing alternative telecommunications operators. Opening telecommunications networks through local loop unbundling could support not only operators' business plans but also increase competition in telecommunications services. Success of this step is in the hands of the public telecommunications network operator with the major market share [Slovak Telecom]," the general director said.

Telenor established its first daughter company in Slovakia, aimed at satellite services, in 1995.

Three years later, another daughter company, Nextra, was introduced to the Slovak Internet market. Telenor Networks, founded in 2001, focused on high-speed Internet access and wireless access to telecommunications services.

Telenor Slovakia operates in the field of satellite communication, transmission of data and voice signals, and provides consulting services to facilitate the implementation of telecommunication and information technologies.

The company, for example, provides products and services helping to renew the telecommunications network in the former Yugoslav states. Several Slovak ministries and TV stations use Telenor's communications services.

Besides Internet access, Nextra provides integrated services such as voice transmission and server hosting.

Telenor Networks provides fixed wireless access (FWA) to telecommunication services licensed on the 26 GHz band, creating an alternative to metallic infrastructure. Since 2001 Telenor Networks has built almost 700 high-speed wireless telecommunications access points.

According to Schliekelmann, Telenor Networks is seriously interested in providing services for lower bands that would be based on technology affordable and attractive to the public. Licences for providing services in FWA networks in bands from 3.5 to 26 GHz have been granted in a majority of EU countries. So far, Slovakia has not granted licences for the 3.5 GHz band.

"We expect that liberalization processes will be introduced at a faster pace so that Telenor will have more space to fulfil the telecommunications needs of this market," Schliekelmann said.

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