Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag reported on Saturday that the nation’s plan to introduce a fourth player to the mobile market via a combined GSM/UMTS licence could be abandoned amid concerns that it would struggle in the current economic climate. Without citing its sources, the paper says the telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority (NHH), is unwilling to risk the winner failing following the global economic credit crunch. However, NHH spokesman Gyorgy Marton told Reuters no decision had been made yet and declined to give further comment.
At the start of this year the NHH announced that it had received a higher than expected number of applications for its tenders to increase competition in the mobile market and to increase broadband internet coverage via WiMAX technology. By the 28 November deadline, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes a total of four bids had been received for the so-called bundle ‘A’, which allows a fourth GSM/UMTS service provider to enter the market, exceeding expectations. The tenders were submitted by Digi, Dream Com Tavkozlesi, Invitel Tavkozlesi and Mobinet Tavkozlesi Projekt.
Two firms submitted applications for the bundle ‘B’ allocation (450MHz), namely Digi and Mobil Wireless Broadband Hungary. The regulator says that if either of these tenders prove to be successful, the winner will be allowed to deploy wireless broadband coverage to sparsely populated areas and municipalities. Under the terms of the tender conditions, incumbent mobile operators, enterprises belonging to the same group, companies directly or indirectly owned by the Hungarian state and service providers with spectrum usage rights for the 3.5GHz frequency were barred from bidding for bundle ‘B’.
The NHH also opened up the 26GHz frequency band (bundle ‘C’), allocating five frequency blocks in all. In a press release the watchdog stressed that the 26GHz band is considered crucial in the development of the internal infrastructure of future winners, and could contribute to the significant increase of wireless broadband coverage in Hungary.