Ice, backed by privately-held Access Industries, and which surprisingly won frequencies in Norway’s 4G spectrum auction at the expense of Tele2, will announce its Norwegian expansion plans within the next month.
Eivind Helgaker, managing director of Ice Norway, told Reuters that names of suppliers – and which services the operator plans to launch – would become public knowledge by then.
Helgaker expressed interest in offering voice alongside data, but acknowledged it was getting more difficult to charge for it. Customers, he said, are becoming accustomed to buying data packages in which voice and text are bundled in for free
Tele2’s failure in the 4G auction eventually led it to agreeing the sale of its Norwegian operations to rival TeliaSonera in a SEK5.1 billion ($744 million) deal (which is awaiting regulatory approval).
There was local media speculation last week that TeliaSonera’s Norwegian operation, Netcom, was not interested in running the Tele2 network, content simply to boost its market share through the acquisition.
A NetCom spokesperson told Mobile World Live, however, that this was not the case and that the acquisition would accelerate the expansion of its 4G network.
“We will provide 98 per cent population coverage by the end of 2016,” said the spokesperson, but using Tele2’s network in this way will depend on gaining approval from the country’s competition authorities.
The spokesperson added that NetCom would “actively facilitate that other operators can establish a third mobile network in Norway”.
By doing so, NetCom would go some way to allaying regulatory fears of an infrastructure duopoly between TeliaSonera and Telenor.