Croatia extends international tender for third mobile telecoms operator

ZAGREB (Reuters) – Croatia’s state council for telecommunications said yesterday it had extended for two weeks, until the end of September, an international tender for a third mobile telecoms network operator. The tender, called in mid-July, combines the third license for a GSM standard network and three licenses for the new UMTS standard of high-speed networks than can handle multimedia transmissions. «The deadline for submitting offers has now been set for September 27, while a decision on giving a concession will be taken on October 18,» the state telecoms regulator said in a statement. The bids will be opened publicly. The tender was originally to close on September 14 and the decision was due on October 14. The council said the tender was extended after recent changes regarding bidding documentation. «A provision regulating the new operator’s business plan has been changed, now requesting the bidders to provide a five-year plan instead of a three-year plan,» the statement said. The price for a combined license is set at 172 million kuna ($28.4 million), while a UMTS-only license is priced at 130 million kuna and a GSM-only license at 105 million. Croatia has two mobile phone operators: HT, controlled by Deutsche Telekom, and VIPnet, owned by Austria’s Mobilkom. Penetration is around 62 percent, and the market is shared almost equally between the two incumbents. The tender stipulates that existing operators will have to provide national roaming to the third operator at an agreed price during the first three years once the new operator reaches territorial coverage of 20 percent. Both operators voiced dissatisfaction, and VIPnet requested that the Constitutional Court assess whether such an obligation was legally founded.

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