Dutch cableco Ziggo plans mobile service to challenge KPN

One of Europe's most overcrowded mobile markets, the Netherlands, is set to become more competitive if plans by Ziggo, the country's largest cable operator, come to fruition. The company, which has already acquired spectrum in the 2.6GHz band, has been allocated 100,000 mobile phone numbers by the Dutch telecoms regulator, Opta, with the condition that it launches a service by January 2012.

Ziggo, which is jointly owned by the venture capital firms Cinven and Warburg Pincus, said it will provide more details on its mobile ambitions later this year. However, a spokesman, Martijn Jonker, told Bloomberg: "If we're going to enter the mobile market, it would be step by step."

This would seem to reinforce suggestions from the Dutch government that it expected Ziggo to make a bid for frequencies in the 800MHz band when they are auctioned sometime next year. However, as an interim step, Wolfgang Specht, an analyst at WestLB, told Bloomberg that Ziggo would launch a service by leasing mobile network capacity from another operator such as KPN.

The keenness for KPN or Vodafone to host Ziggo on their networks might be low given that analysts expect mobile phone revenues in the Netherlands to decline as much as 3 per cent in 2011 to €6 billion, as consumers cut back on spending.

The government is also considering imposing new restrictions on mobile operators, one of which would prevent them from charging customers extra for using VoIP apps to make free calls via the Internet.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Telegeography article

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