Winners by default call for Polish 3G U-turn

Poland's chief telecoms operators have called for the country's UMTS tenders to be cancelled after only three bidders were left chasing the five licences on offer.

Poland's chief telecoms operators have called for the country's UMTS tenders to be cancelled after only three bidders were left chasing the five licences on offer.

Polkomtel, Polska Telecom and Centertel all submitted tenders by today's deadline but have subsequently called for them to be cancelled. Polkomtel said the Polish Telecommunications Ministry should cancel the tender because of the last minute changes to the number of participants. The ministry had expected seven or eight tenders to be submitted with a majority coming from abroad. Spain's Telefonica and Italian telco TU Mobile were expected to bid but failed to secure sufficient financial backing. The main problem, said Bogushaw Kulakowski, director general at Polska Telecom, is that UMTS is too expensive for most operators in the Polish market. He claimed the current second generation infrastructure has not yet reached its full potential - pointing out that only 14 per cent of the population currently use mobile phones. The Polish government is expected to earn E1.5bn (£900m) instead of the predicted E3.25bn (£2bn). However, in a statement, telecoms minister Tomasz Szyszco said the government is satisfied with the final number of bidders, blaming the weak Euro for the poor turnout. The government had announced the distribution process would be a mixture of beauty contest and auction with a minimum reserve of E650m (£400m) per licence.