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Mobile operators’ licences extended

SLOVAKIA’S two biggest mobile operators are to have their licences to use their existing operating frequencies extended for another 10 years, the Telecommunication Office (TÚ) has decided – but it will come at a cost, the Sme daily reported.

SLOVAKIA’S two biggest mobile operators are to have their licences to use their existing operating frequencies extended for another 10 years, the Telecommunication Office (TÚ) has decided – but it will come at a cost, the Sme daily reported.

Though the Finance Ministry originally expected that both mobile providers would pay €10 million, the licence extensions will cost the companies rather more: Orange Slovensko must pay €41 million, while Slovak Telekom, which operates mobile services under the T-Mobile brand, will pay €48 million.

The TÚ used ARPU (average revenue per user) indicators to calculate the fees. The former head of the telecommunications regulator, Branislav Máčaj, said that calculating licence fees by using ARPU effectively penalises the more successful operator.

“At question are identical licences and the operator who is able to earn more per user will now pay more,” Máčaj said, as quoted by Sme.

The operators can still challenge the decision. Orange Slovensko indicated before the TÚ announced the extension fees that if its one-off charge were higher than €5 million, it would consider arbitration against Slovakia, Sme wrote. In 2006 Telefónica Slovakia, the third mobile operator, paid €5 million for its 20-year GSM and 3G licences.

Slovak Telecom may be able to sue Slovakia over a law change, since the Slovak Parliament changed the relevant act after the company had filed its original application to extend its licence. The company sent its first application to the TÚ on January 28 this year, while parliament passed a revision allowing extension fees to be levied only on April 5.


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