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Slovakia to Sell New Mobile Frequencies This Year

Slovakia plans to sell new mobile phone frequencies this year, a process similar to one that triggered a price war and cut costs for mobile customers in the neighboring Czech Republic.

The telecommunications office plans to publish a stance, including the names of participants in a discussion on the auction’s rules, “within days,” Roman Vavro, a spokesman at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the Slovak Republic, said by phone today.

The sale of the 800Mhz, 1,800Mhz and 2,600Mhz bandwidths may bring a fourth operator to a market dominated by French Orange SA’s unit Orange Slovensko AS, Deutsche Telekom AG’s Slovak Telekom and the Slovak subsidiary of Spain’s Telefonica AS. The regulator has said any entrance of a fourth operator will depend on investor interest.

PPF Group NV, a financial house that bid against existing operators in a failed sale of mobile frequencies in the Czech Republic this year, has submitted comments in the Slovak process, PPF spokesman Radek Stavel said by phone. PPF wouldn’t provide more details on its possible participation in the Slovak auction.

The Czech telecommunications regulator canceled its tender on March 8. It said bids had totaled an “excessive” 20 billion koruna ($1 billion), which would push prices higher for customers.

Telefonica Czech Republic AS, the country’s largest provider, subsequently cut its prices by, in some cases, more than half in April and offered the country’s first-ever bundles of unlimited calls, text messages and some data. That was followed by similar moves from its competitors, Czech units of Vodafone Group Plc and T-Mobile.

The Czech regulator plans to begin the failed process again this month. It said in June it planned to allocate some of the frequencies to a fourth mobile phone operator.

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