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Sweden rejects Vodafone 3G delay

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Vodafone has been refused permission to extend the deadline and reduce the population coverage targets imposed by its 3G licence. The mobile network operator had sought to get its network rollout put back to 2005, from the original deadline of the end of 2003, citing delays in obtaining planning permission.

Sweden's telecom's regulator, the PTS, rejected the application, ruling that Europolitan, Vodafone's Swedish sub, should have anticipated this.

The PTS is playing hardball with Sweden's network operators, none of which actually paid much money for their licenses. Instead, the companies were subjected to a beauty parade. The winners had to comply with strict deadlines for roll-out and population coverage, effectively the whole country.

However, Orange, a 'successful' licence holder, argues that the original terms were rendered void by the late entry of Telia (through an alliance with Tele 2). In September it sought permission from the PTS to extend the roll-out period by three years and it wants permission to reduce poulation coverage to 8.3m from the original requirement of 8.86m (i.e. the entire population, effectively). The PTS denied both requests, unwilling to see a large swathe of rural Sweden denied 3G access.

Hi3G is Sweden's other licence holder. ®

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