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NMHH rejects appeal over fourth mobile licence

13 Mar 2012

Hungarian regulator the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) has rejected an appeal by the country’s three incumbent mobile operators over the January 2012 award of a fourth mobile licence to a consortium made up of state-backed companies. The three firms – Telenor (formerly Pannon), Vodafone Hungary and Deutsche Telekom’s local T-Mobile subsidiary – now have now have 30 days to submit a further appeal to a Budapest court, the NMHH said in an emailed statement.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that on 31 January this year the NMHH closed out the tender for 900MHz when it sold a 10.8MHz block of spectrum to the three incumbents as well as to a would-be new market entrant – a state-backed consortium of power utility MVM, postal services operator Magyar Posta and a unit of Hungary’s development bank MFB. The newcomer won the ‘A block’, suitable for both internet and voice services, paying HUF10 billion (USD45.4 million), while the other three firms each secured spectrum from parts of the ‘less valuable’ ‘B block’, which is better suited to provide mobile internet access in rural parts of the country. Vodafone reportedly bid HUF15.7 billion, T-Mobile offered HUF10.9 billion and Telenor bid HUF7.3 billion, the watchdog said.

In the wake of the award, last month Magyar Telekom (T-Mobile), Telenor Hungary (formerly Pannon) and Vodafone Hungary filed an appeal against the national telecom regulator’s recent award of mobile frequencies to the state-backed consortium, questioning the latter’s right to participate in the auction as well as regulations on domestic roaming services for the new operator, meaning the start of the newcomer’s network deployment looked likely to be pushed back two months to April. On 9 March 2012 though, Magyar Telekom received notification from the NMHH concerning its final and non-appealable decision, dismissing the appeal of Magyar Telekom and upholding the first instance decision. The telco was not satisfied however, and on 12 March, due to legal errors in the auction process and the decision, it filed a petition with the Metropolitan Court, requesting that the court ‘annul the designation of the consortium as an auction winner and certain relating requirements of the final decision; and that the Court suspend the enforceability of these same provisions’.

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