Orange Slovakia – the country’s mobile market leader by subscriptions – has expanded its 5G network coverage to 28% of the population, up from 25% in December 2022, now reaching 146 cities and towns, as it continues towards its 50%-plus 5G footprint target for 2023. The latest locations reached include the city of Spisska Nova Ves and the villages of Helcmanovce, Mnisek nad Hnilcom and Smizany, plus two towns in the Trencin region.
Orange 5G access is currently restricted to post-paid subscriptions, but the cellco is preparing to make 5G available for its pre-paid customers. Company spokeswoman Alexandra Piskunova told local news site Zive.sk: ‘Yes, we also want to enable customers with Prima [pre-paid SIM] cards or FunFon [an Orange Slovakia sub-brand] to take advantage of the high speed 5G network. We will inform you in good time about the date when it will be relevant.’
With 5G already available for pre-paid customers of the main brands of rival network operators O2 Slovakia, Slovak Telekom and 4ka, alternative budget mobile brands have now also begun providing 5G access, putting Orange under further competitive pressure to expand into the 5G pre-paid segment. At the end of January, Tesco Mobile Slovakia – a joint venture between retail group Tesco and O2 Slovakia – switched on 5G access for ‘Trio’ SIM card users (with 37% 5G population coverage via O2), a move which followed the introduction of 5G by Juro – a sub-brand of Slovak Telekom – at the beginning of the year. Pre-paid customers of O2 sub-brand Radost are also able to connect to 5G in some areas of the country, according to the budget provider’s website.
Until late-October 2022 Orange charged an additional fee for post-paid 5G access, enabling a special tariff with extra data, but from that date it opened 5G access to a range of its existing post-paid packages at no extra charge.