Telekom Austria partners up for Belarus mobile broadband

By Nick Wood , Total Telecom

Revenue-share deal will see Velcom resell EV-DO services from local rival Belcel.

Telekom Austria on Monday announced its Belarusian subsidiary Velcom will begin selling mobile broadband services in partnership with rival operator Belcel.

The 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement will see Velcom take control of Belcel's retail mobile broadband sales and customer service operation, while Belcel will manage and operate the infrastructure side of the business.

Services will run on Belcel's EV-DO network, which currently supports data rates of up to 3.1 Mbps.

"This agreement provides our customers with a mature mobile broadband service and future-proof option to upgrade, once even more advanced technology becomes available in Belarus," said Helmut Duhs, CEO of Velcom, in a statement.

"The cooperation [announced] today allows Belcel to increase the quality and capacity of its network significantly," commented Konstantin Tikar, general director of BelTelecom, parent company of Belcel.

Meanwhile, Telekom Austria warned in a separate report on Monday that the deteriorating economic situation in Central and Eastern Europe could hurt its full year results.

"We clearly see a pressure from the economic crisis in Eastern Europe. It's definitely a pressure that could be felt also in our results," said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Telekom Austria, in a report by Dow Jones Newswires.

Velcom has been one of Telekom Austria's strongest performing units in the region, after the operator in February reported relatively flat fourth-quarter growth at its operations in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.

CFO Hans Tschuden told Total Telecom at the time that Telekom Austria expects mobile usage in some markets to slow in 2009, and that it had already seen signs of contraction at its Macedonian subsidiary.

Telekom Austria is set to report its first quarter results on Wednesday.



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