TeliaSonera welcomed Tele2-owned Mobile Norway's announcement that it has signed a frequency licensing and network purchase agreement with Ice Communication Norge, saying the move helps to meet the "political target" of maintaining three mobile networks in the country.
TeliaSonera is in the process of buying Mobile Norway from Tele2, but there are concerns that this acquisition would effectively carve up the mobile market between TeliaSonera's Norwegian business and incumbent operator Telenor.
On Wednesday, however, Ice Communication Norge--previously known as Telco Data--and Mobile Norway signed an agreement on the lease of frequencies in the 900 MHz band. As part of the agreement, Ice said it intends to purchase parts of Tele2's mobile network infrastructure if the Norwegian Competition Authority approves TeliaSonera's acquisition of Tele2 in Norway.
TeliaSonera said it did not participate in the negotiations between Ice and Tele2.
"This has a very positive impact on the competition on the Norwegian market. It helps to meet the political target according to which there should be three mobile networks in the country, while it also guarantees network access to Tele2's customers until spring 2015, when the traffic will be switched over to our network," said August Baumann, CEO of TeliaSonera Norway.
The deal between Ice and Mobile Norway also further clarifies the plans of the former Telco Data, which acquired spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands in the Norwegian frequency licence auction last December.
In March this year, Telco Data was renamed Ice Communication Norway AS and along with Ice Norway AS (ice.net) is wholly owned by AINMT Scandinavia Holdings AB, which also owns Net1 in Sweden and Denmark and is part of the international industrial group Access Industries.
Ice.net and sister brands Net1 in Sweden and Denmark provide mobile broadband services using the 450 MHz frequency band in their respective countries.
In August, the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT) postponed its planned auction of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band due to the uncertainties caused by TeliaSonera's plan to buy Tele2 Norway.
An auction of three available blocks in the 1800 MHz band was originally scheduled for January 2015, but the NPT now plans to wait until the acquisition of Tele2 Norway has been approved in order to ascertain what market changes this merger might bring.
At the time, the regulator noted that TeliaSonera's plan to acquire Tele2 Norway from the Swedish Tele2 group for an enterprise value of SEK5.1 billion (€561 million/$708 million) could bring about possible changes in the market situation that "will be of great significance for several of the potential bidders in the auction." The NPT added that these factors should be clarified before the 1800 MHz auction is held, and said it will publish a new schedule for the auction at a later date.
TeliaSonera announced in July that it would acquire Tele2's Norwegian operations and committed itself to 98 per cent population coverage for LTE services by the end of 2016, two years ahead of its previous obligations.
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