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June 30th, 1999, Salzburg


June 30th, 1999, Salzburg: Cross-industry group The UMTS Forum has congratulated the Austrian telecommunications regulator Telekom-Control Austria (TKC) for the contents of its recently-published public consultation document on licensing for third generation UMTS mobile networks.

The consultation was published last week by Telekom-Control Austria (TKC), and follows shortly after the regulator announced its membership of the UMTS Forum. Significantly, TKC’s paper refers to a number of findings from the UMTS Forum’s own published series of Reports. These reports - spanning regulatory, spectrum, licensing, technology and market issues - have already been used as a blueprint for 3G licensing by several other European regulators. All eight currently available Reports are available for download from the UMTS Forum web site www.umts-forum.org.

”We are pleased to welcome TKC’s full and detailed consultation paper, and we are also pleased to note that it contains explicit reference to many issues that have already been addressed by the UMTS Forum in its own series of Reports”, noted UMTS Forum Chairman Dr Bernd Eylert, speaking on the eve of the UMTS Forum’s General Assembly in Salzburg (July 1st-2nd):

”We would point to the thoroughness of TKC’s document as a model example to other regulators in their own public consultation process on third-generation licensing.”

While supporting many of TKC’s proposals, the UMTS Forum has also drawn attention to specific areas in the consultation document where its own views are clear-cut. Specifically, a proposed ”auction-style” licensing process outlined by TKC has already been criticised by two of Austria’s four mobile operators Mobilkom and max.mobil [themselves both members of the UMTS Forum] who in their responses to the document have highlighted the unacceptably high additional costs that an auction places on operators. In common with Austria’s other operators, Mobilkom and max.mobil are currently investing billions of Schillings to expand and upgrade their existing GSM networks.

This viewpoint has been echoed by the UMTS Forum, who has warned that auctions may not represent the best route for 3G licensing. Inviting competitive bids places far higher up-front costs on operators that may in turn damage their ability to roll out UMTS services within the January 2002 timescale as proposed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The Forum thus recommends that the Austrian and other 3G licensing processes are conducted as a ”beauty contest”, favouring candidates who are best placed to offer mass-market mobile multimedia services to their customers.

Dr Eylert also urged that licensing should embark as soon as possible in order to allow operators and other players sufficient time to develop and deploy UMTS networks:

”Undesirable delays to the licensing process will seriously jeopardise operators’ ability to secure necessary investments and deploy UMTS networks. We strongly urge the Austrian regulator to conduct its own licensing process within a schedule that will permit roll-out of UMTS to address the timely needs of the mass market.”

Dr Eylert continued: ”By granting UMTS licenses to four operators, the Austrian regulator will help ensure that each participant is afforded sufficient spectrum (2x15MHz plus a further 5MHz unpaired) to support future demand for mobile multimedia services. We recommend that no additional licenses are awarded as this will impact severely on operators’ abilities to serve the future needs of the market.” Formal responses to TKC’s consultation document are invited by September 13th 1999.

There are now five Austrian members of the UMTS Forum. The most recent Austrian organisation to join is the R&D institute FTW (Telecommunications Research Centre Vienna).

For further press information, please contact:
Chris Solbe +44 181 673 5089 chris.solbe@dial.pipex.com

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