Croatia ramping up competition in flourishing mobile market

10 May 2005

Croatia’s Telecommunications Council (TC) yesterday began an international tender for the country’s fourth wireless concession, just four months after licensing the market’s third operator. Unlike the three combined GSM-UMTS licences issued before it, the 20-year concession is solely for the provision of GSM services and has been given a starting price of HRK105 million (USD18.4 million). The tender will close on 17 June, with a winner due to be announced on 15 July.

The new player will be entering a booming market; by the end of 2004 there were 3.21 million mobile subscribers in Croatia, up from 2.51 million in December 2003, a penetration rate of 71.9%. Users were split between Deutsche Telekom-backed T-Mobile, which had 1.9 million users, and Mobilkom Austria-owned VIPnet with 1.31 million. On 25 January 2005 a joint Swedish-Croatian consortium known as Treca Sreca (Third Luck), led by Sweden’s Tele2 and including nine domestic companies, was awarded a dual GSM-1800/UMTS licence valid for 20-years. Third Luck intends to launch services by August, saying that it will offer services at tariffs as much as 50% cheaper than the current duopoly operators.