Brussels, 08 August 2002
The news that availability of a full 3G mobile telecommunications network will not be available in Sweden for another four years could signify a delay in one of the key elements of the information society roll out in the EU.
Sweden was expected to be one of the first European countries to make 3G services available throughout the country, and had opted pursue a plan that suited the country best rather than auction to the highest bidder. However, one of the four license holders in the country, Orange, has asked for a three year delay in the original schedule that would have seen more than 99 per cent of the population covered by the end of 2003. The new date by which Sweden should have the proposed 3G coverage is the end of 2006.
There has also been a request from Orange to reduce the level of coverage from 8.86 million people in Sweden to 8.3 million. The move is attributed to the economic difficulties that have been experienced by telecommunications operators, who are now looking to reduce spending in the 3G area. As well as the request made to the Swedish telecoms authority for postponement, Orange has also announced that it will cut back spending at its German venture, Mobilcom. Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica has also said that it is pulling out of spending any money on non-Spanish 3G developments.
While Orange is only one of the four license holders in Sweden, its move could affect the others, as the plans for establishing the 3G infrastructure in rural areas in the country is a collaborative efforts between all four license holders.