Slovak Post willing to stick neck out for SWAN?

10 Feb 2015

Slovak Post is considering acquiring a stake in Slovakia’s fourth mobile operator SWAN, currently wholly owned by Slovakian investment company DanubiaTel, according to a report in Trend.sk. SWAN, a fixed and fixed-wireless broadband operator which is preparing the commercial launch of the country’s fourth national cellular network, last year signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a potential partnership with the national postal operator which included the possibility of a capital investment in the telco, and Slovak Post head Thomas Drucker confirmed in an interview that his organisation wants to enter into a closer cooperation with SWAN. However, the postal chief added that a decision on developing the partnership is pending resolution of a regulatory spat between SWAN and Slovakia’s three existing nationwide cellcos regarding the overdue full commercial launch of SWAN’s 4G LTE network, which requires national roaming access.

Drucker stated that if Slovak Post commits to a long term partnership with SWAN, it should receive some ‘privileges’, which could include investing in a stake in the telecoms operator, in a similar move to the postal firm’s recent acquisition of shares in an insurance company. He clarified that Post will ‘wait until SWAN will be able to prepare its infrastructure so that it is technically sound and viable’ before it ‘will consider the specific forms of cooperation’. The alternatives to a capital investment include giving SWAN access to Slovak Post’s national sales network and brand in return for commission from products sold. However, the investment approach is the priority option, due to the growth prospects for SWAN representing an asset in the balance sheet which could help recoup previous financial losses.

In mid-December SWAN reportedly blamed incumbent cellcos Orange, Slovak Telekom and O2 for the delay in the commercial nationwide launch of its LTE services, although spokespeople for rival cellcos issued counter-claims that incomplete information had been provided by the newcomer to facilitate national roaming on their network(s). The matter is currently being overseen by the regulator, the Office for Electronic Communications & Postal Services (RU). The existing operators are obliged to provide roaming on their networks once SWAN reaches 20% population coverage with its own infrastructure; SWAN claims to have met this coverage obligation, with an LTE 1800MHz network presence in 40 cities/towns/municipalities.

Earlier this month SWAN – which has built out its initial LTE infrastructure by utilising its existing WiMAX towers – also bought additional 3.5GHz wireless broadband frequencies, CommsUpdate reported.

Slovakia, SWAN (incl. BENESTRA)