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Slovakia may get new mobile operator

WHEN Telefónica Slovakia got its mobile operator’s licence in 2006, questions were raised about whether there was room for another operator on the Slovak market, given the well-established position of the two existing mobile operators. But now there is a chance that Slovaks will be able to choose from not three but four mobile operators. Slovakia’s telecoms regulator, the Telecommunications Office (TÚ), confirmed on August 8 that talks had taken place earlier in the month with the Vietnamese telecommunications services provider Viettel Corporation.

The number of mobile operators in Slovakia may grow to four.(Source: SME)

WHEN Telefónica Slovakia got its mobile operator’s licence in 2006, questions were raised about whether there was room for another operator on the Slovak market, given the well-established position of the two existing mobile operators. But now there is a chance that Slovaks will be able to choose from not three but four mobile operators. Slovakia’s telecoms regulator, the Telecommunications Office (TÚ), confirmed on August 8 that talks had taken place earlier in the month with the Vietnamese telecommunications services provider Viettel Corporation.

“It is not clear yet whether Viettel alone is seeking to enter the Slovak telecommunications market or if it merely represents the interests of an operator or a consortium,” TÚ spokesman Roman Vavro said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

At the meeting representatives of Viettel Corporation talked about their previous experience with cheap terminal equipment, low prices and accessibility of services for customers in densely populated areas of the country, Vavro disclosed.

According to reports in the Slovak media, it is the mobile operator Viettel Mobile, part of the wider Viettel Corporation, which is interested in Slovakia. Vavro said, however, that the mobile operator may also create a new brand for the Slovak market or establish a joint venture with another company. The large operator, which is already active on three continents, is interested in frequencies in the 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz bands suitable mainly for launching an LTE network to provide high-speed mobile internet services. Entry into the Slovak market could help Viettel to establish itself in Europe.

The TÚ intends to employ a selection process to award licences for use of frequencies in the 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz bands. Until the end of this year, operators may use frequencies in the 2,600 MHz band to provide retransmission of unchanged TV programs (MMDS). Frequencies in the 800 MHz band were originally allocated for the so-called transition multiplex digital broadcasting, DVB-T. However, the TÚ, according to Vavro, is working intensively to let mobile operators use the frequencies in both bands by as early as 2012.

Telefónica Slovakia refused to comment on the potential arrival of a fourth operator, but SITA quoted spokesperson René Parák as saying his company would monitor the situation. Orange Slovensko also declined to comment, citing lack of information, and Slovak Telekom said it believes the Slovak mobile market is already saturated. With regards to participation in any tender for the 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz frequencies, for now only Orange Slovensko has said it will participate, while the remaining two have yet to decide.

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