Clash Checks Czech EV-DO

The commercial launch of the industry’s first CDMA2000 1x EV-DO network operating in the 450MHz spectrum appears in doubt, following reports of a management conflict between Czech national carrier Cesky Telecom a.s. and its wholly owned wireless subsidiary Eurotel Praha spol. s.r.o..

Last month Eurotel announced the planned rollout of the service in conjunction with Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), allowing the carrier to potentially offer high-speed data applications of between 300 and 500 kbit/s. Commercial services were initially set for a May launch (see CDMA 450 Czechs In and Eurotel Picks Nortel).

Media speculation suggests that such a timescale is unlikely to be reached in light of a reported dispute between the companies.

According to Czech news service CTK, the board of Cesky Telecom is attempting to dismiss Eurotel’s CEO Terrence Valeski for his decision to invest in the network without first obtaining a license for the service [ed. note: D'oh!].

“It seems that this event is the last straw in the deteriorating relationship between Cesky Telecom and its more profitable subsidiary, Eurotel,” comments Ovum Ltd. director Martin Garner.

Eurotel and Cesky Telecom declined to comment on the speculation; Nortel was unable to return calls by press time.

Ovum’s Garner also points out that the licensing issue may be “just a front” from Cesky Telecom. The parent company is rumoured to be concerned that Eurotel’s EV-DO service will threaten demand for its own fixed broadband data services.

“There is plenty of speculation... that the real issue is to do with fears that the EV-DO service will cannibalize DSL sales and reduce the value of the overall broadband market."

Eurotel’s EV-DO ambitions are the latest chapter in the high-profile CDMA 450 saga, with European and Asian carriers recently launching networks based on the standard (see CDMA 450 Seeps Into Europe).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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