One.Tel explores European spectrum

Australian telecommunications group One.Tel has shrugged off its failed attempt to win UK spectrum and is looking forward to a slew of European gigahertz offerings.

According to spokeswoman Zoe Hawkins, One.Tel will continue in its attempt to realise the goal it announced in November of obtaining spectrum licences in three countries.

Recently, One.Tel placed a $523 million bid on the auction table for Australian 1.8GHz spectrum, the second-largest such bid.

Hawkins said that One.Tel's original spending limit for acquiring spectrum licences was a total of $2 billion -- spread over three countries. One.Tel opted out of the auction for UK spectrum last week when bidding for the cheapest licence reached 2.33 billion pounds ($A6.17 billion), a pricetag Hawkins said "wasn't supported" by One.Tel's business plan.

One.Tel will narrow the focus of its spectrum acquisition to European countries where the 70 per cent Murdoch- and Packer-backed telco already has a significant customer base. One.Tel will participate in bidding for spectrum in the Netherlands, France and Switzerland later this year, and in Italy in 2002, Hawkins said.

It is unlikely that One.Tel will bid for spectrum licences in Germany, she said, where the "unusual" auctioning system was heavily geared against newcomers such as One.Tel.

Hawkins was sceptical about bidding in France and Switzerland, which she likened to a "beauty contest". Distribution of spectrum in those countries will be closely related to the telco's potential to deliver "on paper", she said.

Ultimately, Hawkins believes One.Tel is most likely to succeed in the auction for spectrum in the Netherlands, where the consumer market is similar to the market in Australia.

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