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Hungary awards 4G licences to four operators

The Hungarian telecom authority NMHH has sold 4G spectrum licences to 4 operators in the country, raising HUF130.6 billion ($530.25 million).

Licences were issued for airwaves in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, along with unallocated 900MHz and 1.8GHz spectrum. The winning bidders were Magyar Telkom (a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom), newcomer Digi Telecommunications, and Vodafone and Telenor’s Hungarian units.

Magyar Telkom was the biggest spender, lashing out HUF58.65 billion on its licences. It is tailed by Telenor (HUF31.73 billion) and Vodafone (HUF30.23 billion), while Digi Telecommunications has bid a significantly lower HUF10 billion.

NMHH has stated that it intends to “quicken the setting up of broadband networks, to develop the Hungarian digital economy and to boost economic competition”.

The authority also noted that Digi Telecommunications, a privately-owned Romanian company, was rewarded as a newcomer, since evidence from other markets indicates that a new entrant “mobilises and revitalises the market, enhances price competition and engenders new services”.

Digi’s network buildout will take around 18 months, while the existing operators will be able to deploy services using their new spectrum in the next few days. NMHH noted that 800MHz spectrum’s “favourable propagation characteristics” could enable operators to expand broadband coverage to regions where it has previously fallen short, capitalising on the market’s potential.

According to NMHH, the 20-year validity of the licences “ensures the dynamic growth of the economy and represents a guarantee for the sustainable development of the mobile market while offering predictable terms for fostering industry investments”.

Market leader Magyar Telkom and number two Telenor have both already launched 4G services, but neither offering has been widely adopted. Magyar Telkom had around 5.4 million subscribers at the end of Q2 2014, with Telenor in second place with 3.2 million and Vodafone in third with 2.6 million.

 

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