Slovakian mobile operator Orange Slovensko launched commercial 3G mobile services yesterday over its newly-built W-CDMA network, which is enabled with HSDPA technology. Orange Slovensko director general Pavol Lancaric told a press conference that the 3G/3.5G service would be made available to customers in all cities with over 20,000 inhabitants, representing around 43% of the Slovak population, whilst 3G roaming was available via selected roaming partners in five countries. The HSDPA data network is designed to support 3.6Mbps transmission speeds, although mobile devices currently available to users only support a maximum of 1.8Mbps. According to Mr Lancaric, 3.6Mbps devices will be on the market by the end of 2006.
Orange’s official UMTS/HSDPA launch follows last month’s pilot for selected large corporate customers in Trnava and Zilina. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Orange received its UMTS licence in 2002, but did not make its first test 3G call until September 2005, after contracting Canadian vendor Nortel to supply and build its W-CDMA network. It originally hoped to launch services in the first quarter of 2006 but its plans were delayed. Close rival T-Mobile Slovensko launched commercial 3G services in late January 2006.