TeliaSonera’s Norwegian mobile operator NetCom is reportedly hoping to sidestep one of the requirements of its 3G concession by offering high speed services via EDGE technology on its existing GSM system rather than rolling out a separate UMTS network. Reports suggest that the company has approached the country’s telecoms regulator with a request to utilise EDGE, which provides data transmission at speeds of up to 200kbps, even though its 3G licence states that it must provide transmission speeds of 384kbps to at least 76% of the population by the end of this year.
NetCom, which is one of three 3G licensees in Norway along with Telenor and Hutchison Whampoa-backed Hi3G Access, says it could provide EDGE services to 95% of the population by the end of next year, a better coverage than could be expected with UMTS. Upgrading a GSM network with EDGE is a much cheaper alternative to rolling out 3G infrastructure. Norway was home to around 4.36 million mobile users at the end of June, with NetCom claiming a 28% share of the market.