TeliaSonera, Telenor and mystery entrant Telco Data win Norwegian spectrum

TeliaSonera, Telenor and unknown newcomer Telco Data have all won spectrum for LTE services in Norway's recently completed auction of blocks in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands, although the local unit of Tele2 confirmed that it failed to get its hands on any new spectrum resources.

It has also not yet been revealed how much each operator will pay for the spectrum: the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (PT) said this information would be announced on Dec. 10.

In a statement, Tele2 expressed disappointment with the auction result but said it would continue to develop its network in the 900 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands, and would seek opportunities to buy vacant frequencies in the 1800 MHz band, thereby making use of existing frequencies for the launch of LTE services.

"We are obviously not satisfied with the outcome of the auction, but we have a strong position in Norway that we will build on," Tele2 CEO Mats Granryd said in a statement. "Our own network covers about 75 per cent of the population, and we will continue to offer Norwegian mobile customers affordable and simple mobile services."

Winners in the auction:

TeliaSonera (NetCom)
2 x 10 MHz (coverage obligation) in the 800 MHz band
2 x 5 MHz in the 900 MHZ band
2 x 10 MHz in the 1800 MHz band
Telenor
2 x 10 MHz in the 800 MHz band
2 x 5 MHz in the 900 MHz band
2 x 10 MHz in the 1800 MHz band
Telco Data
2 x 10 MHz in the 800 MHz band
2 x 5 MHz in the 900 MHz band
2 x 20 MHz in the 1800 MHz band

TeliaSonera, which operates via NetCom in Norway, said it was very pleased with the outcome of the auction and described the 800 MHz band as essential for the nationwide rollout of its LTE network. It said it would be able to increase its LTE coverage from around 50 per cent of the population today to at least 65 per cent during the first quarter of 2014.

The block won by TeliaSonera obliges it to provide services to 98 per cent of the population within five years.

"This goes hand in glove with NetCom's ambition to offer superior mobile speeds, the shift from traditional telephony to data and our customers' demands for good coverage," NetCom CEO August Baumann said in a statement.

Telenor, which in October revealed it had gained 400,000 LTE subscribers on its network since launching the service a year previously and covered 45 per cent of the population, said it will now be able to offer better coverage in 2014.

"This is a big day for Telenor and especially our customers," Telenor Norway CEO Berit Svendsen, said in a statement. "Coverage will improve as of early 2014. We are now ready to improve coverage in every county nationwide--not to mention that indoor coverage will be significantly better."

The question on everyone's lips, however, is who exactly Telco Data is--also written as TelcoData by some.

"Unfortunately, detailed information about Telco Data is confidential for the time being," a PT spokesman told FierceWireless:Europe in emailed comments. "However, we can inform you that Telco Data is backed by a major international conglomerate based in an OECD country with significant experience in telecoms and media. The company will reveal its plans in the new year," the spokesman added.

Local media has gone to town by speculating that a major new telecoms giant is about to establish itself in Norway. As things stand, little is known about Telco Data other than it was registered on business register "Brønnøysundregistrene" as recently as Nov. 2 and the company's articles of association date from Oct. 30. Knut Glad, a partner in the law firm Føyen, is listed as chairman of the board. Glad said he had no comments on the matter currently.

"Could it be T-Mobile, AT&T or Vodafone who are ready to conquer Norwegian mobile customers," excitedly asked Norwegian news site digi.no?

For more:
- see this PT release
- see this digi.no article (translated via Google Translate)

Related Articles:
TDC CEO latest to call for European M&A
Nordic operators Telenor, TDC wobble amid growing competition
Telenor reaches 400,000 LTE subscribers in Norway
TeliaSonera picks Ericsson, Huawei for Norwegian network rollout

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