Polish cellular operator Polkomtel, which provides services under the ‘Plus’ brand name, has announced the launch of high definition (HD) voice services. The initial switch on has been made in Warsaw, as well as parts of the Masovian, Podlaskie and Lublin voivodeships (i.e. regions). The firm said HD Voice will be made available nationwide in the first quarter of 2015, with 80% of the phone models it currently sells able to utilise the new service. The launch comes as Polkomtel moves towards the introduction of voice-over-Long Term Evolution (VoLTE), which it successfully trialled in September this year. Polkomtel is the third largest mobile operator in Poland in subscriber terms, with 23.6% of the country’s 57.61 million users at the end of September, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.
Separately, CDMA fixed-wireless operator Sferia, which – like Polkomtel – is part of the stable of companies owned by Polish billionaire mogul Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, is to begin receiving its new 800MHz licences from next week. The Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) agreed to award part of the 800MHz ‘digital dividend’ band to Sferia in return for the telco handing back its existing holdings in the same band, which allowed the government to split the remaining frequencies more efficiently ahead of the ongoing auction of 800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies. Sferia is expected to utilise its new spectrum to migrate to an LTE platform. As part of the agreement with the government, Sferia was not eligible to bid in the 800/2600MHz auction, which is being contested by the four main cellcos – Orange Polska, T-Mobile Poland, P4 and Polkomtel – plus Hubb Investments, which is controlled by broadcast infrastructure firm Emitel, and NetNet, which is owned by Szymon Ruta, the son of a senior Polkomtel executive and business partner of Zygmunt Solorz-Zak. The results of the auction are expected to be published over the next few days.