VIAG, Nokia Sign Liechtenstein 3G Network Contract

LONDON (04/28/2000) - VIAG EuroPlattform AG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of VIAG AG, today took another step in its plan to build a German-speaking pan-European mobile communications network, with the award of a network infrastructure contract to Nokia Corp.

The contract includes base stations, switching equipment and GPRS (general packet radio service) core network infrastructure for a GSM (global system for mobile communications) network operating in the 1.8GHz band. It also covers Nokia's Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) third-generation mobile technology, Nokia spokeswoman Riitta Marb said in a telephone interview.

Financial terms of the contract are confidential, Marb said.

Last November, VIAG was awarded a license to build and operate a GSM1800 network in Liechtenstein. The GSM 1800 network in Liechtenstein will be ready for commercial launch in June, Nokia said in a statement.

Liechtenstein also awarded VIAG the country's only third-generation mobile licence. The tiny country has a population of just 32,000 people and covers 160 square kilometers, which is nine-tenths the size of Washington, D.C.

VIAG plans to use its Liechtenstein GSM1800 network as a base to build advanced mobile services serving the neighboring German-speaking countries of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, where it owns a share in existing GSM1800 network operators, the company said in an earlier statement.

The company plans to operate in a dual mode, GSM1800 and WCDMA, according to VIAG spokesperson Aloise Widmann. "We are starting our learning curve in Liechtenstein," Widmann said in a telephone interview.

The company plans to build 3G mobile platform stretching across Europe, according to VIAG spokesman Benidick Bader.

As part of the deal, Nokia will help VIAG's pan-European affiliate operations based in Liechtenstein to integrate and develop end-user applications for the 3G mobile phone network, Marb said.

VIAG applied to the government of Liechtenstein for the mobile telecommunications licence, utilizing the 1.8GHz waveband, last September. The awarding of the contract by the Liechtenstein government was in stark contrast to the U.K., where the government just completed a long 3G mobile spectrum auction for five licenses, netting the U.K. government 22.48 billion pounds (US$35.43 billion). [See "3G Mobile Auction Finally Ends at $35B," April 27.]Earlier this month, Nokia signed an agreement with telecommunications operator New World Telecom to test a 3G mobile communication system in Hong Kong. Nokia already has experimental WCDMA field systems installed in China, Finland and Japan. [See "Nokia to Build Trial 3G Network in Hong Kong," April 5.]Nokia, in Espoo, Finland, can be reached at +358-9-5113-8193, or at http://www.nokia.com/. VIAG, in Munich, can be contacted at +49-89-25002-2601 or at http://www.viag.com.

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