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Telekom to Launch LTE Network in Early 2013

Ljubljana, 15 November (STA) - Telekom Slovenije, the country's biggest telecommunications provider, plans to commercially launch the next-generation LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile network in early 2013, initially covering all major cities.

"The decision to launch the next-generation LTE services is a major milestone in Telekom's development," chief executive Rudolf Skobe told the press on Thursday.

He said LTE would be rolled out gradually. "We will follow the maturity of equipment on the used side; there are not many devices on the market supporting LTE...but there will be many more in 2013," Skobe noted.

Telekom has already started upgrading its existing network to LTE, having chosen Swedish Ericsson as the provider of the gear. Ericsson has built virtually the entire Telekom mobile network over the years.

By the end of this year 70 base stations will have been retrofitted to LTE, at a cost of EUR 2.5m (the entire investment is projected to cost EUR 51m over five years).

The executives would not reveal how many base stations will be up and running for the commercial launch, saying only that major cities would be covered.

"Next year we will have the first true Slovenian LTE network, accessible in all major cities," Skobe said, no doubt in reference to Simobil, the no. 2 wireless carrier, having launched a limited LTE service in July.

Simobil unveiled Slovenia's first commercial 4G mobile broadband service at locations in Ljubljana, Brnik and Bled in mid-July on its 1800 MHz frequency spectrum.

Telekom will also be using its existing spectrum as Slovenia is yet to tender off the 800 MHz spectrum, which will be set aside for 4G services.

The Agency for Post and Electronic Communications (APEK) is in the midst of preparations for a call for bids that is expected in 2013.

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