YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesLONG WAIT FOR ITALIAN MOBILE LICENSE COMING TO CLOSE

LONG WAIT FOR ITALIAN MOBILE LICENSE COMING TO CLOSE

The Italian government said it plans to award the license for a third mobile phone service later this month.

A spokeswoman for the communication regulatory agency said it expects to finish assessing the three bids by June 10 and likely name a winner by June 15. The Italian bank Crediop is acting as the adviser for the communications authority, assessing the tender offers from the three bidders hoping to win a nationwide Global System for Mobile communications license based on Digital Communications Services at 1800 MHz technology. The license is valid for 55 years.

The three bidding consortia are: Wind, consisting of France Telecom, Italian electric utility Enel Spa and Deutsche Telekom; Picienne Italia SpA, made up of British Telecommunications plc, the Italian television broadcaster Mediaset and Norwegian phone carrier Telenor; and Telon, the last-minute bidder controlled by Italian highway company Autostrade SpA, Bell Canada International and Hong Kong’s Distacom Communications Ltd.

The mid-June schedule represents another delay for the long-overdue license, although a short one.

The government originally wanted to award a third license in the fall of 1996. That was delayed to later that year, and again to March of 1997 and yet again to last September. The process received some much-needed motivation for closure when the Italian senate ratified a lower house decree that set a May 31 deadline to award the license. While that deadline has been missed, it is expected to be resolved within a matter of weeks.

The winning bidder will compete against Omnitel Pronto Italia and Telecom Italia Mobile, the existing GSM operators. Both incumbent operators will be prohibited from employing DCS technology until six months after the new entrant begins offering service. The freshman operator also will be allowed full roaming access to their GSM networks, according to the decree.

Once this license round is complete, the ministry of communications said it likely will move forward on plans to assign a fourth cellular license in July 1999.

Analysts have determined Italy to be the fastest-growing wireless market in Europe, with a current wireless penetration of 20 percent-predicted to grow to as much as 40 percent during the next three years. The country added more than 5.3 million wireless users last year.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Editorial Reports

White Papers

Webinars

Featured Content