VIP Operator acquires LTE spectrum

11 Jul 2013

Macedonian operator Mobilkom Macedonia (VIP Operator), part of the Telekom Austria Group, has won one of the three spectrum blocks awarded by the Agency of Electronic Communications (AEC), for the provision of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the country. In a press release, VIP Operator confirmed that it has been awarded 2×10MHz frequencies in the 800MHz band and 2×15MHz spectrum in the 1800MHz band. It paid EUR10.3 million (USD13.1 million) for the authorisations which require it to launch commercial 4G services no later than 1 August 2014.

‘Today VIP has taken a big step forward in its evolution. Less than a year after launching 3G services, VIP today acquired an LTE licence and additional frequencies [enabling us] to provide super-fast, mobile data services on the next generation of technology from mid-2014 onwards … This is a huge investment in our network capability [and will benefit] our customers and the company,’ stated the firm’s CEO Nikola Ljushev.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database reports that in May this year, the AEC announced a public auction (No.0204-1550/2) for national mobile service licences in the 790MHz-862MHz and 1710MHz-1880MHz spectrum ranges, aimed at providing LTE mobile broadband services. The licences were open to domestic and foreign companies, and are valid from 1 September 2013 until 31 August 2033 with the prospect of extension. In order to qualify, interested parties have to already provide mobile services to at least 300,000 subscribers (as of 31 December 2012) and have combined revenues generated from telecommunication activities of EUR10 million in 2011 and 2012. The winners of the beauty contest will have to provide the regulator with a six-year timetable plan within 45 days of bid approval. Under the licence requirements, the operators should offer mobile service to 20% of the population in two years after the licence issue date; in four years the coverage should reach 40%, rising to 70% after six years. Macedonia’s two other incumbent cellcos T-Mobile and ONE were the only other firms to submit bids, and they reportedly received their licences on the same day.

North Macedonia, A1 Macedonia (formerly Vip), Agency for Electronic Communications (AEK), ONE (incl. on.net and Cosmofon), T-Mobile Macedonia