ECONOMY

Stet gets into LMDS market

Stet Hellas, one of the three providers of mobile telecommunications services in Greece, is branching into fixed telephony by leasing Europrom SA’s fixed wireless telephone license using the Local Multipoint Distribution System (LMDS) technology. Europrom, part of the Kopelouzos group, which is mostly known for its involvement in energy projects, had acquired one of six LMDS licenses in December 2000, in cooperation with an Israeli company which later ran into financial straits, preventing the partners from actually activating their license. Telestet announced it will use the license to offer its clients an integrated telecommunications package that will include mobile and fixed telephony service and broadband Internet access. Telestet plans to have its fixed telephony service up and running, with corporate customers, in early 2003. LMDS, a system that allows for broadband microwave wireless to be transmitted directly from a local antenna to homes and businesses within a line-of-sight radius, represents a solution to the so-called last-mile technological problem of providing economically feasible high-bandwidth services to users. Providers of LMDS services target businesses that need to transmit data at high speeds, Internet users utilizing interactive television and others interested in voice services as potential customers. Although the technology received great hype two or three years ago, with the telecoms market boom throughout Europe, initial estimates of the potential size of the market proved too optimistic. As a result, many companies awarded LMDS licenses in Europe actually had to shut down. Mobile phone companies, however, see the service as complementing their more traditional offerings.