LTE: Polish operator to focus on wholesale and rural broadband

Two niche Polish mobile operators have agreed to collaborate and launch LTE services in the 1.8GHz band that will focus on providing wholesale capacity to potential MVNOs and rural broadband services.

The operators, CenterNet and Mobyland, which have been offering GSM services since 2007, have decided to leapfrog 3G and become LTE players with the hope that they can then effectively compete with the existing, and much larger, Polish operators PTK Centertel (Orange), Polkomtel (Plus), PTC (Era) and P4 (Play).

The two firms, together recently acquired by Aero2 which has been building an HSPA+ network for about a year and also holds LTE spectrum, now plan to have 700 LTE base stations operational by the end of 2010 providing coverage to almost 20 per cent of the Polish population.

Interestingly, the business model for this new venture will be on providing rural broadband (as an alternative to fixed line services), a conventional mobile voice and data offering, but with a key emphasis on providing wholesale capacity for MVNOs interested in an early entry into LTE.

"By consolidating the resources of these three players, Centernet, Mobyland and Aero2, this new group has developed the capacity to compete with the four main market participants," said Edyta Kosowska, a research analyst for Frost & Sullivan's telecoms group. "The launch of services based on an LTE network is likely to become a serious competitive weapon, especially on the mobile broadband market in Poland."

However, while Poland can be congratulated for being the fourth country in the world to have a commercial LTE network, choosing the 1.8GHz band means that the European LTE spectrum usage picture is becoming fragmented even at this early stage. German operators have decided that 800MHz makes best sense for LTE, while pioneer TeliaSonera has mainly selected 2.6GHz.

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