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SWAN wins 4G mobile licence alongside three incumbents

9 Jan 2014

A new entrant to Slovakia’s mobile sector has won a network operating licence in the 1800MHz frequency band in the country’s 4G technology-neutral multi-band licence auction held last month, it was confirmed yesterday (8 January 2014) by the Republic’s telecoms regulator. Domestic broadband operator SWAN acquired 2×15MHz of 1800MHz frequencies, alongside the country’s three existing mobile operators, which won licences as follows: Orange Slovensko won 2×10MHz in the 800MHz, 2×4.8MHz in the 1800MHz and 2×30MHz in the 2600MHz bands; Slovak Telekom acquired 2×10MHz in the 800MHz, 2×40MHz in the 2600MHz FDD and 50MHz in the 2600MHz TDD bands; and Telefonica O2 Slovakia won 2×10MHz in the 800MHz and 2×0.6MHz in the 1800MHz bands. Concessions are valid from 30 December 2013, and services should be launched in the first half of 2014.

The former Telecommunications Office of the Slovak Republic (TU SR), since 1 January officially operating as a merged part of the Authority for the Regulation of Electronic Communications and Postal Services, confirmed that the only participants in the simultaneous multi-band electronic auction were the four concession winners, paying a total of EUR163.9 million (USD222.9 million) in one-off licence fees, or around 11% more than the sum of the floor bid prices for the frequencies. Ladislav Mikus, president of the former TU SR and acting president of the newly merged regulator, stated that the entry of SWAN as a fourth mobile operator was a ‘pleasant surprise’, ‘which should be reflected in the rapid deployment of new technologies and affordable services to citizens.’ Mikus added that he expects network coverage and service quality criteria for the newly licensed frequencies will be met ahead of deadlines.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that SWAN (Slovak Wireless Access Network) offers a range of broadband services including corporate 26GHz fixed wireless access and 3.5GHz WiMAX services in addition to ADSL and fibre network services, while it entered the residential market with triple-play voice, internet and digital TV services under the ‘Max Multimedia’ brand in 2008 (recently rebranded to SWAN Multimedia), available in Bratislava and four other cities at launch. According to its website, SWAN currently offers residential broadband in 19 cities, in 18 of which it also offers fixed telephony and digital TV (via a combination of IPTV and cable TV in some areas including the capital Bratislava). GlobalComms adds that later in 2008 SWAN purchased regional fibre broadband operator PEEM Slovakia as well as the remaining operations of Amtel Slovensko including the Amphone voice service. SWAN (and its affiliate GlobalTel) is wholly owned by Slovakian investment company DanubiaTel.

Slovak Telekom (which offers services under the ‘T’ brand of its parent Deutsche Telekom) separately announced that it spent EUR60.846 million on its new 800MHz/2600MHz spectrum licences, which it will use to widen and enhance its existing 4G LTE network coverage, currently spanning 31 cities and 23.7% of the population using the 1800MHz band but lacking coverage of Bratislava; the company’s CEO Miroslav Majoros said that the new frequency award would ‘immediately’ result in services being extended across the capital and Kosice. The operator currently offers 20 compatible LTE devices.

Orange Slovensko issued a press release saying that it had won the ‘optimal’ combination of frequencies in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands, adding that it will be rolling out 800MHz rural and remote LTE network coverage while deploying 1800MHz and 2600MHz services in cities for maximum mobile data speeds. Orange also confirmed it will launch commercial LTE operations in accordance with the terms of the individual authorisation in the first half of 2014.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, O2 Slovakia paid a total price for its new frequencies of EUR40.30 million.

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