Hutch waits in the wings as Netia Mobile mulls its options

13 May 2005

According to the Warsaw Business Journal, Netia Mobile has applied to the regulator URTiP concerning the allocation of 99 free channels for GSM-1800 frequencies unsold in a recent auction. The company submitted its application for a 25-year GSM licence along with its submission for a 3G licence, as part of a consortium with Novator Telecom Poland. Although Netia secured the UMTS concession with a bid of around PLN345 million, URTiP rejected all bids for GSM-1800 frequency on the grounds that none of the applications met the minimum terms of the tender, leading Netia to threaten that it might not proceed with its plans after all. The company says it will reveal its decision on whether to forge ahead with just one licence on Monday. It is concerned that it will cost far more to provide nationwide 3G coverage without having access to 2G frequencies. Meanwhile, the other unsuccessful participants in the tender, PTC and Polkomtel, have stressed that they will lodge official protests over the result.

The shenanigans over Netia’s 2G/3G licence bid could present Li ka-Shing’s ports-to-telecoms conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa a second bite of the cherry in the Polish 3G market. With Netia procrastinating over whether to proceed with a service limited to just 3G, the head of URTiP Witold Grabos confirmed on a Polish TV station that Hutch would ‘be the winner’ if Netia decided to back out.

Poland, CK Hutchison, Netia