YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesSWEDEN READIES TO LICENSE PCS TO FOUR OPERATORS EARLY IN 1996

SWEDEN READIES TO LICENSE PCS TO FOUR OPERATORS EARLY IN 1996

Sweden’s Post and Telestyrelsen, the national telecom agency, said it expects to license up to four operators for nationwide personal communications networks early next year.

Cellular penetration is at about 25 percent of Sweden’s nearly 9 million people, so while the country is home to three digital and two analog cellular networks, both an increasing number of users and growing level of use demonstrate need for more wireless capacity.

Private entities Comviq and Europolitan, and government-owned Telia Mobitel each operate a Global System for Mobile cellular communications network. Telia also operates analog networks at 450 MHz and 900 MHz, said Pererik Westin, an economic adviser at Sweden’s telecom agency. He said digital and analog claim about one million subscribers each. The PCN networks will use GSM as well and operate at 1800 MHz. PTS’ decision to license four operators is based on amount of space at that frequency, Westin said.

Interested parties must submit applications, including a fee of about $15,000, by Dec. 11, said Curt Andersson, director of international relations at PTS. Andersson said licenses will be awarded based on entities’ plans for rollout, capabilities for providing nationwide coverage, and ability to do so efficiently. PTS is aiming to announce the winners by the end of January.

Westin said each licensed PCN operator will be required to pay annually about 21 cents per $152 of annual revenue, or $4,600-whichever is higher. This isn’t very much, noted Westin. The fees are “not for profit*…*It can’t be done here.”

PCN operators will be required to have their nationwide systems operating in urban areas with more than 50,000 people by the end of 1999.

The licensing process is an “open invitation procedure,” explained Westin. “No one will be excluded from the start.” In fact, unlike most European countries, foreign entities can pursue a PCN license independently as the owner. During the last year, between 15 and 20 companies have expressed interest in PCN to the agency, said Westin, but he anticipates between five and 10 companies actually will apply by next week.

Luca Tassan, a consultant in the London office of Economic and Management Consultants International Inc., said the three current cellular operators are expected to receive one PCN license each, serving as a piggyback service to their cellular networks in densely populated areas. One or two other PCN licenses will go to new private players, Tassan added.

Comviq is owned by Stockholm-based conglomerate Kinnevik. Europolitan is owned by Nordic Tel Holdings, which is owned 51 percent by AirTouch Communications Inc., 12 percent by Vodafone plc and the remaining portion owned by many individual investors, Westin said. Telia is a limited liability company owned solely by the government, said Westin, but operates similar to a private company. It previously was a government agency.

In Sweden, analog service has been available since the early 1980s and GSM service since 1992, Westin said.

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