Written by James Middleton
Telekom Austria said Wednesday that its majority owned Belarusian mobile subsidiary, Velcom, has been granted a countrywide UMTS license for a price of ?9.5m.
The respective spectrum was already allocated to Velcom at the end of 2009, and the 3G licence is valid until 2017. The mobile operator, which is 70 per cent owned by Telekom Austria and 30 per cent by Cypriot firm Samauwi Brothers, said the roll out of the UMTS network is in progress with up to ten base stations being upgraded every day.
The Austria carrier expanded its operations into Belarus in 2007, paying ?730m for the stake. The operator also has a put option agreement, which would allow it to buy the remaining 30 per cent stake in the fourth quarter of 2010 for approximately ?320m.
The carrier markets its mobile services under the brand names "Velcom" for postpaid services and "Privet" for prepaid services and is the number two operator in Belarus with a market share of approximately 42 per cent and more than 4.1 million customers at the end of December 2009.