Orange extends 43.2Mbps speeds to four more cities; hopes to delay ANCOM spectrum shake-up

8 Dec 2011

Orange Romania, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has announced that it is poised to extend 3.5G download speeds of 43.2Mbps to four unnamed cities within a matter of days. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in October Orange made the advanced transmission speeds commercially available in Bucharest, with a number of other cities – including Cluj and Timisoara – linked with an upgrade before the end of 2011. Although Orange did not explicitly confirm the technical specifications behind the increased speeds, it was assumed that the advanced connections are courtesy of a HSPA+ network deployment. In addition, marketing director Dorin Odiatu told business daily Ziarul Financiar (ZF) that the cellco’s W-CDMA network is expected to reach 80% of the country by the end of the year, following a vigorous rollout campaign.

In related news, ZF reports that both Orange and rival operator Vodafone Romania intend to petition telecoms watchdog ANCOM, with a view to delaying the date by which they must each relinquish a block of 900MHz spectrum. As reported last week, in its latest study of the wireless market, ANCOM ascertained that Romania Cable Systems (RCS&RDS), the fourth-placed mobile operator in terms of subscribers, is currently operating at a competitive disadvantage, as it lacks spectrum in the 900MHz band, as held by Orange, Vodafone and Cosmote. As such, by 31 December 2012 ANCOM confirmed that Orange and Vodafone are obliged to release a sub-band of 2×5MHz bandwidth from their respective 900MHz frequency allocations, as this will not affect the continuity of the services provided by them. ANCOM has called it ‘the most appropriate remedy to create a level playing field for all the undertakings on the mobile market’. Interested parties were invited to contact the watchdog with comments and suggestions by 9 December 2011, and Odiatu told ZF: ‘This period of one year is an impossible technical provision, and we will argue that the period should be increased’. Babak Fouladi, technical director of Vodafone Romania described the time-frame as ‘very difficult to achieve’.