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Hungarian mobile base dips in March; market newcomer aims to be competitive, profitable

23 Apr 2012

Hungary was home to a total of 11.634 million mobile subscriptions at the end of March 2012, down 13,000 on the preceding month, according to data published by the telecoms industry regulator, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH). Further, the number of active mobile phone subscriptions – i.e. those phone SIMs that were used at least once in the previous three months – also fell by a net 46,000 from the previous month to 11.013 million at end-March, as cellular penetration slipped to 116.8 SIM cards per hundred people, down from 116.9 in February.

The NMHH reported that in terms of total mobile market share, T-Mobile Hungary controlled 45.32% of the market at 31 March 2012, up from 45.25% in the previous month, ahead of Telenor with 31.81% (down from 31.86%) and Vodafone in third at 22.88% (unchanged). When measuring the cellcos’ market share based on active users though, the situation was as follows: T-Mobile Hungary up to 45.58% from 45.49%; Telenor, down to 31.87% from 31.96%; and Vodafone unchanged at 22.55%.

In a separate but related story, Budapest Business Journal writes that Hungarian mobile start-up MPVI Mobil, a state-backed consortium of power utility MVM, postal services operator Magyar Posta and a unit of Hungary’s development bank MFB, aims to operate ‘efficiently and profitably’, according to its chairman Istvan Kalmar speaking at a press conference last Friday. The newcomer was the biggest winner in Hungary’s recent mobile frequency auction, and Kalmar is adamant that the entry of a fourth player will boost competition and raise service levels. MPVI Mobile won the ‘A block’, suitable for both internet and voice services, paying HUF10 billion (USD45.4 million), while the other three incumbents 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. However, since the award the existing mobile network operators have launched a legal challenge to MPVI’s spectrum allocation through the courts. The start-up is undaunted by the challenge and has adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach, and in the meantime is focusing its efforts to start offering services in the centre of the capital by the end of 2012 – as per the terms of its licence award. The company intends to use ‘external resources’ for network deployments, but has so far declined to reveal any further details. It is in the process of selecting a network supplier and once operational, intends to offer both voice and data services.

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