YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesITALY TO GET NEW, FORMIDABLE PLAYER

ITALY TO GET NEW, FORMIDABLE PLAYER

OXFORD, United Kingdom-Originally scheduled for fall 1996, Italy’s third GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) license finally was awarded in June. The winning WIND consortium is 51-percent owned by the state-controlled electricity utility Enel, together with partners Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom. WIND recently won a fixed network license in Italy, giving Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom unprecedented access to the Italian market.

Italy is the fourth-largest cellular market in the world with more than 13 million subscribers and is continuing to grow at a healthy rate, making the dual-band GSM 900 license one of the most attractive properties in European mobile. Existing operators Omnitel Pronto Italia and Telecom Italia Mobile-the largest operator in Europe with more than 10 million subscribers-are banned from using their 1800 MHz spectrum allocations for six months.

The Italian market has shattered one of the myths of the mobile industry by achieving record growth and subscriber numbers without the introduction of handset subsidies. More than 40 percent of the market consists of prepaid subscribers, ensuring that operator success is driven largely by innovative tariffing and marketing.

The WIND consortium certainly has the financial muscle to succeed, and Enel already has a network that reaches into every home in Italy. Adding marketing expertise to that mixture will create a truly formidable opponent to the existing operators.

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