Orange rolls out of Swedish 3G race

Blinks first

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Orange SA gave its rivals in Sweden an early Christmas present on Friday, when it announced it was pulling its plans to roll out a 3G operation in the country.

Operators in Sweden have become increasingly nervous about the costs of setting up 3G in the country. In November the government rejected pleas from Orange Sverige and Vodafone's Swedish subsidiary for extensions to the deadlines for rolling out their networks.

Last week Orange finally cracked, and announced its "intention to withdraw from the Swedish market in response to the pressures placed upon it by the UMTS license requirements and current market conditions." The firm said it would be significantly reducing the size of its operation in the country, which currently numbers 243 staff.

The decision should provide some relief to the country's rival 3G outfits, if only because it means that if they continue to roll out their networks they all stand to get a bigger slice of the customer pie, assuming someone else does not step forward to take on the Orange license. Ironically, Orange's decision came as the Swedish minister for telecommunications reportedly signaled her willingness to discuss a possible revision of the 3G license conditions.

On the other, hand, Orange had been a partner in 3G Infrastructure Services AB, which it jointly owned with Vodafone and Hi3G, to cooperate in building a countrywide 3G infrastructure. Orange presumably faces the task of placating its partners, who apparently now face the task of building the network on their own.

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