YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesTHREE GROUPS COMPETE TO OPERATE POLAND'S GSM DIGITAL SYSTEM

THREE GROUPS COMPETE TO OPERATE POLAND’S GSM DIGITAL SYSTEM

Three international consortia met the Jan. 3 deadline to apply for one of two Global System for Mobile communications cellular licenses the Polish Communications Ministry plans to award this spring.

One bidding party claims telecom giants U S West Inc. and DeTeMobil-the cellular arm of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom. Each hold a 22.5 percent stake, said Alan Thompson, a London-based spokesman for U S West. Polish trading conglomerate Elektrim owns a 32.5 percent share in the consortium. Other Poland-based partners include Polish Export Bank (5 percent), entrepreneur Jan Kulczyk (4.8 percent), Elektrim Auto Invest (4.6 percent), Warta insurance company (4.1 percent) and PolPager (4 percent).

Polkomtel was formed by AirTouch Communications Inc., Denmark telecom operator Tele Danmark, Petrochemia Plock, a Polish oil refinery, and a Poland-based copper mining company, KGHM Polska Miedz. Each hold 19.25 percent ownership. The remaining 23 percent is held by a group of Polish partners, said AirTouch spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg.

The third competitor is a group led by Ciech, a Polish trading company, and STET telephone company of Italy.

Poland requires domestic companies hold majority ownership in licensed operators.

Each consortium submitted a nonrecurrent fee of $130 million for a 15-year license. The operators licensed must pay an annual charge-based on net new subscribers-during the first five years of operation, said Rosenberg.

The ministry is expected to move quickly on licensing; winners could be announced in March, said Rosenberg.

Meanwhile, Ameritech International and France Telecom, each 24.5 percent partners in Centertel-Poland’s sole cellular operator-continue to pursue international arbitration against the Polish government. The companies say a 1991 letter of intent signed by the government guarantees Centertel a GSM license as a modern upgrade to its current analog system. The ministry said the letter is not binding.

France Telecom last week launched international arbitration against the Republic of Poland. The company seeks $500 million compensation, including capital invested in building and operating Centertel’s network and income lost from not operating a GSM network.

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