One.Tel joins Swiss 3G race

There is "no such thing" as 3G spectrum, argues One.Tel founding director Brad Keeling.

In fact, according to Keeling, all high-speed voice and data can be just as efficiently transmitted via the existing GSM spectrum as it can through the 1900-1980MHz spectrum expected to be auctioned off in January 2001.

"The technology has moved far enough to have high-speed data over wireless on 1800MHz. The RMT (3G) auctions in January are nice to have but not essential," he said. "It's a little extra bandwidth. That's all it is."

One.Tel will comfortably provide "package-based" billing and services over wireless on its existing network, Keeling said.

"That spectrum is not essential. It is only nice to have."

One.Tel issued a statement to the ASX yesterday advising shareholders of the carrier's application with Spanish telco Telefonica and Finish telco Sonera to be "prequalified in the process for the award of IMT-2000 licences in Switzerland".

However, Keeling pointed out that One.Tel was attracted to the prospect of boosting the services offered to its existing Switzerland customer-base, not of acquiring more spectrum unnecessarily.

"We weren't attracted to Switzerland 3G," he said.

"The spectrum that we (One.Tel, Sonera and Telefonica) would acquire would be primarily for voice. As there is more demand for data services we will provide them. (But) the killer app for mobile today is still voice."

By banding together, One.Tel, Sonera and Telefonica felt they would stand a better chance of being awarded spectrum, and of keeping bidding prices down, Keeling said.

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