Telekom Austria CTO hails convergence milestone with Macedonia buy

AMSTERDAM--Telekom Austria said it has achieved a milestone in its convergence strategy by agreeing a deal to acquire blizoo, one of Macedonia's largest cable operators, according to the Austrian operator's chief technology officer.

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Günther Ottendorfer, Telekom Austria CTO

Speaking on the sidelines of the LTE World Summit here on Monday, Günther Ottendorfer told FierceWireless:Europe that the acquisition is a key step in Telekom Austria's strategy to offer fixed and mobile services in the markets where it is present, and helps to boost its presence in Macedonia where, so far, it has been a mobile player only.

"It is part of our strategy that we try to become a converged player," Ottendorfer said.

The CTO added that the operator is now also preparing to launch an LTE network in Macedonia, building on the experience it has gained from its existing LTE networks in Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia. This experience will serve the company well when it launches the Macedonian network, and will guide its rollout plans in other markets, Ottendorfer said.

"[W]e are looking at the situation in the other markets. We think that with the knowledge and expertise we have gained, we are in a good position as a group to bring really good LTE services to our customers," he said.

Spectrum remains one of the key elements in offering a high-quality LTE service. Ottendorfer said the topography of Austria, for example, makes 800 MHz spectrum a must have. He noted that "80 per cent of Austria is mountainous areas…it makes Austria difficult to cover. That's also where we see the value of the 800 MHz spectrum, and the better propagation there. We have better foundation for the rollout, especially in rural areas, but also…better indoor coverage."

The auction of new 800 MHz and 2600 MHz spectrum--along with some additional 1800 MHz--in Austria in 2013 has helped the company grow its domestic LTE network coverage to 45 per cent of the country's population. "We will continue to roll out and will, this year, reach more than half of the Austrian population," Ottendorfer explained.

Ottendorfer predicted strong uptake of LTE services throughout Telekom Austria's markets, driven by improved network coverage, more capable and less expensive devices and the continuing evolution of applications. "[I]t gets much easier for the average consumer to use those services," as a result, he said, pointing to a recent survey by research company Gallup, which found 33 per cent of people in Austria are now actively using mobile apps. He noted the number of active mobile apps users is growing, and said that growth "will bring huge demand for LTE services."

Telekom Austria is preparing for that growth in demand, but also has an eye on other business fields, including machine-to-machine (M2M), which Ottendorfer said the company has "been working on" for "quite a while."

Although Telekom Austria's attention is focused on its LTE rollouts, Ottendorfer said it is not too soon for the industry to be talking about so-called fifth generation (5G) technology, even though the industry has still to arrive at a common definition for the technology.

"I believe that there will be a smooth path from 4G and a gradual path into 5G. Some countries will take steps on that path earlier, others will take a little bit longer, but it will come there," he said.

For more:
- see Telekom Austria's blizoo announcement

Related Articles:
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