A second cellular phone license probably won’t be awarded this year because the Luxembourg government has delayed approving critical telecommunications legislation.
The small Western European country is fighting its telecom deregulation battle on two fronts. Because Luxembourg is a member of the European Union, it is obligated to liberalize its telecom markets by 1998.
The country’s House of Parliament was expected to pass a law regarding market liberalization this summer, after which the Ministry of Communications would begin a formal tender process.
The telecommunications bill would break up the PTT monopoly on cellular service and allow the tender for new licenses to be issued. More than a half dozen wireless companies worldwide have expressed an interest in the license.
Legislators now hope the bill can be approved by year-end and enacted early next year. This means the licensing process could extend until next summer. In addition, the Court of Justice of the European Union recently handed down a judgment against Luxembourg, siting “failure of a member state to fulfill its obligations” regarding telecommunications terminal equipment.
Luxembourg has two cellular networks, a Nordic Mobile Telephone-450 system, due to be shut down soon, and a Global System for Mobile communications system. Both are owned and operated by the country’s Post and Telecommunications agency. The systems jointly serve an estimated 30,000 subscribers.
Luxembourg’s population is only about 400,000, but the country attracts a great deal of international business traffic, due in part to tax and banking laws, according to Northern Business Information. Revenue from cellular roaming and international calling is believed to be high.