The Telecommunications Office of the Slovak Republic (TU SR) says it has initiated legal proceedings against the country’s two mobile operators, EuroTel Bratislava and Orange Slovensko, after hitting a brick wall over the duopoly cellcos’ refusal to co-operate with its plans to introduce competition into the market.
The government has tried, and failed, to introduce a third player to the mobile market on several occasions. In 1999 it launched a tender for DCS-1800 frequency but to its disappointment failed to attract a single bid. In March 2002 the TU SR launched a beauty contest for GSM and UMTS concessions. Despite rumours that the two incumbents were lining up to block any newcomer from gaining a licence, and although a number of parties – including Telenor and TIW – pulled out due to what they termed ‘disadvantageous bidding conditions’, the process was concluded four months later. The TU SR awarded UMTS concessions to both incumbent operators, as well as a combined GSM/UMTS licence to new market entrant Profinet.sk. However, in September 2002 the TU SR revoked the newcomer’s licence after it failed to come up with the first instalment of the licence fee in time.
The TU now feels that it has no option left but to seek a court ruling that will effectively force EuroTel Bratislava and Orange Slovensko to co-operate with its strategy to ramp up competition. ‘The plan is to oblige the mobile operators to support effective competition and the development of the domestic market,’ claimed a spokesperson for the regulator.