SWAN still has its wings clipped

28 Apr 2015

The latest entrant to Slovakia’s mobile sector, SWAN, is still unable to offer its customers a national service, as negotiations to agree roaming deals with its rivals continue. On 25 March the Office for Regulation of Electronic Communications & Postal Services (known as Regulacny Urad, RU) issued an interim measure setting the conditions for the provision of national voice/data roaming by incumbent cellcos Orange, O2 and Slovakia Telekom for newcomer SWAN, which had recently launched its commercial 4G LTE network with limited coverage and data-only services. In issuing its decision, however, the RU also extended the deadline for a final decision on the dispute between operators concerning the conditions of national roaming by another four months. In the meantime, SWAN must continue negotiating with the other operators in an attempt to forge an agreement on the pricing and conditions for roaming.

A report from the Slovak Spectator says progress in the talks has been slow, with SWAN seemingly prepared to wait for the RU to step in on its behalf if an agreement cannot be reached. Under the terms of their 4G licences, which were acquired at auction in late 2013, Slovakia’s operators must offer SWAN the same quality of service as subscribers to their own networks, on the condition that SWAN had built out its own infrastructure to cover at least 20% of the population, which the RU confirmed earlier this year.

Meanwhile, SWAN’s mobile resale partnership with national postal operator Slovenska Posta is expected to get off the ground in the third quarter of this year, though the launch depends on the availability of national roaming. The pair are to create a joint venture company to offer services via a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model, under the brand ‘Postatel’. While SWAN will target the higher end of the market under its own brand, Postatel will be a mass-market option, utilising the national network of post offices as retail outlets. Stanislava Pondelova, a spokeswoman for the postal operator, told the Spectator: ‘Slovenska Posta wants to launch the offering of mobile telecommunication conditions under its own brand to catch the strong pre-Christmas season,’ going on to say that it could switch to another of the country’s cellcos if SWAN is unable to offer a nationwide service in time.