Orange demands 3G delay

  • 2002-08-15
  • Agence France-Presse, STOCKHOLM
Orange Sverige of Sweden has asked for a three-year delay to plans to build a next-generation mobile phone network after Swedish telecom operator Telia threw a cat among the pigeons by entering the race at the 11th hour, the daily Dagens Industri said Aug. 7.

Orange Sverige, which is 85 percent owned by Orange SA, the mobile unit of France Telecom, in December 2000 received one of the four free licenses made available by Swedish authorities on the basis of the quality of proposals from candidates to operate the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, or UMTS.

The other three licenses went to Tele2, Europolitan Vodafone, which is 71 percent owned by Vodafone, and Hi3G.

Telia was originally left out of the plans to build the network, but has now joined up with Tele2 to share its license, meaning that now five companies are in the equation.

Dagens Industri said Orange considered that Telia's entry into the game had changed the picture and left existing contracts it had signed with the Swedish telecommunication authorities void.

Under the contracts the operators are expected to provide third- generation services to the whole population by the end of 2003, meeting the costs of the equipment and installation themselves.

Orange has asked for the deadline to be put back to the end of 2006 and to be obliged to cover only 8.3 million consumers rather than 8.86 million originally planned, thus economizing on heavy installation costs in densely populated regions, the newspaper reported.

Orange, whose parent France Telecom is seeking to reduce its huge debt, is the first holder of a UMTS license to have asked to re-negotiate terms with the Swedish telecom authorities.

The Swedish authorities have said that they will give an answer in the next few days.

In Stockholm, Malmo and Karlskrona, Orange and its competitors will supply their own equipment separately. The rest of the country is to be supplied by Orange, Hi3G and Europolitan Vodafone.