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Only Turkcell bidding in Turkish 3G tender-sources

07 сентября 2007

Vodafone, France Telecom and Avea did not bid in a Turkish tender for third generation phone licences, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Thursday, leaving the fate of the tender uncertain.

The sources said the withdrawal of the three companies from bidding leaves top Turkish mobile phone operator Turkcell alone in the tender, which has been scheduled for Friday.

The companies were not immediately available to comment.

Fast-growing Turkey is one of the last countries in Europe to sell third-generation licences, which will allow operators to offer more advanced services such as video telephony.

"The only bidder is Turkcell. Now the regulator is discussing what to do and how to go ahead," one source said.

Turkey's second-largest operator Vodafone, France Telecom's Orange unit and the third largest Turkish operator Avea, which is owned by unlisted Turk Telekom, had previously requested tender conditions.

Turkcell said on Thursday it had placed bids for all four licences at different frequencies ahead of the tender, which had been overshadowed by a court bid to halt the process.

Turkey's sector regulator, the Telecommunications Board, was set to hold the tender on Friday after the process was postponed in May. No reason was given at the time, but officials had linked it to July general elections.

Then, two weeks ago, the Telecom Technical Staff Association

(TETED), made up of sector employees, applied to an Ankara court to have the tender cancelled on the grounds it would cause unfair competition and only benefit Turkcell if held before the introduction of a mobile number portability system (NPS).

"A decision has still not been made on our court case. The judicial year begins today. A duty court may make a decision," said deputy TETED chairman Kemal Omrak.

But if a decision is not made on Friday the court application will be invalid because it only sought to prevent holding the tender on Sept 7, he said.

Avea and Vodafone have also said holding the tender before the introduction of NPS would only benefit Turkcell.

Omrak said in Europe 3G tenders have been held on average two years after NPS was established and that if the Treasury does not wait for this it will earn less from the tender.

If the court does not make a decision before the tender, Omrak said his association would look at the value of the bids before deciding whether to challenge the tender results.

Shares in Turkcell closed 0.5 percent weaker at 9.35 lira on the day after the sources' comments were reported, compared with a decline of 1.1 percent beforehand.

Source: http://www.reuters.com

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