Mobile operators T-Mobile A¬ustria and Hutchison 3G Austria (H3G) are reportedly poised to unveil a network sharing agreement which will see them share their UMTS infrastructure starting from July 2012. According to unconfirmed reports by Austrian business daily Wirtschaftsblatt, T-Mobile customers who cannot receive UMTS signals will automatically be connected to H3G’s network, and vice versa, from this summer onwards. According to the article, both companies aim to eliminate so-called ‘dead zones’, in which they lack coverage.
Wirtschaftsblatt adds that Hong Kong-based Hutchison’s impending EUR1.4 billion (USD1.8 billion) takeover of Orange Austria, the market’s third-placed cellco by subscribers, should be unaffected by the rumoured partnership. However, that merger still hinges on the successful divestiture of Orange’s wholly-owned Yesss! mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) unit to A1 Telekom Austria, in a transaction valued at around EUR300 million; last month reports emerged suggesting that A1 was reluctant to meet H3G’s asking price for the re-seller, which currently counts some 600,000 subscriber accounts.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at end-September 2011 market leader A1 controlled 41.5% of the Austrian wireless market, with T-Mobile accounting for a further 31.3% of customers. If fourth-placed H3G’s (10.0%) acquisition of the larger Orange (17.2%) goes ahead as planned, the consolidated entity will remain in third place, slightly adrift of Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile.