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Mystery operator wins Norwegian LTE spectrum

oslo-norway

The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority has announced the winners of its latest spectrum auction, with one of the three successful bidders  an unknown company whose identity has become the focus of much speculation. Challenger Tele2 came away empty-handed and must now look to address the holes in its spectrum portfolio.

Incumbent operators Telenor and TeliaSonera, which operates in Norway as Netcom, each bagged 2 x 10MHz in the 800MHz band, 2 x 5MHz at 900MHz and 2 x 10MHz at 1800MHz. The third winner, which collected the same allocations at 900MHz and 800MHz but 2 x 20MHz at 1800MHz is an unknown quantity.

The new operator is called Telco Data, according to the Norwegian regulator’s announcement, and local reports suggest that the firm has only come into being inside the last week and is backed by a big name foreign player. It is currently being represented by a legal firm and it is understood that it will unveil its true identity in the new year.

Meanwhile Tele2, which operates Network Norway, came away empty handed. CEO Mats Granryd said in a statement that he was “obviously not satisfied with the outcome of the auction,” but added that the firm will make further efforts to gain access to 1800MHz spectrum in future.

Three blocks of 5 x 1800MHz blocks have yet to be allocated, the Norwegian regulator said, and Tele2 will likely be pursuing these to bolster its existing spectrum holdings, which are substantially smaller than those of its competitors.

The operator has 2 x 20MHz at 2100MHz, which it is licensed to use through to 2032. But its 900MHz allocation must be returned to the regulator in the third quarter of next year, a spokesman told Telecoms.com. The operator is in the process of deploying an LTE network, with 2,000 sites and 75 per cent population coverage in place, the spokesman said. But without anything other than 2100MHz frequency it faces challenges in terms of coverage.

The firm stressed its focus on partnerships, adding that its experience in this area will be “valuable going forward” and it may well now look to partner with another operator to gain access to spectrum in the lower bands.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.


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