Flarion, Siemens in at Eurotel
Flarion Technologies and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) are believed to have scored their first carrier deal as a result of an earlier OEM agreement, with the finger of suspicion pointed firmly at Slovakian operator EuroTel Bratislava a.s.
In October last year Flarion announced it is to manufacture its Flash-OFDM equipment for use by Siemens in the 450MHz band (see Flarion Flashes With Siemens). The kit is expected to be ready for delivery in the second quarter of this year. [Ed. note: So right about now, yeah?]
Last month Christoph Caselitz, president of mobile networks at Siemens Communications Group, was reported as stating that Siemens had already won a European contract for its Flash-OFDM kit. Flarion has also promised that 2005 will be the year of commercialization for its technology in Europe (see Riviera Roundup).
Industry scuttlebutt suggests Eurotel Bratislava is the likely customer. On paper, at least, the deal makes sense.
Eurotel currently operates an analogue Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) cellular system deployed in the 450MHz band, but is expected to upgrade this service in the near future. The carrier is also a 100 percent owned subsidiary of Slovak Telecom AS, which in turn is majority-owned by Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT). Deutsche Telecom’s mobile subsidiary is T-Mobile International AG, and the German incumbent is currently in the process of rebranding Eurotel Bratislava to T-Mobile Slovensko (see T-Mobile Rebrands Eurotel). [Ed. note: Kevin Bacon is rumored to sit on the board.]
Of course, T-Mobile already has close ties with Flarion. In 2003 Flarion received investment from the T-Mobile Venture Fund, and in September last year announced a European trial with the carrier in The Hague (see T-Mobile Invests in Flarion, T-Mobile Flashes Flarion Trial, and T-Mobile Favors Flarion ). At last week’s WLAN Event in London, T-Mobile also declared it is “looking into opportunities in niche markets where UMTS is not the technology of choice,” adding that “we see Flarion as an interesting opportunity for us.” (See T-Mobile Praises Flarion.)
Analysts certainly believe the deal is a strong possibility. “It sounds very logical,” opines Caroline Gabriel, research director at Rethink Research Associates.
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” adds Peter Jarich of Current Analysis. “If you add up all their relationships, it seems like no stretch to think that a deal is in the works.”
Naturally, Flarion and Siemens are keeping their lips tightly sealed.
Eurotel Bratislava’s CFO, Ivan Bosnak, gives a lengthy "no comment": “As a part of a Wall Street quoted company, which DT is, I on behalf of one of its subsidiaries am not allowed to talk much about our future plans, apart from describing those which were already detailed in some of the DT public statements/filings as ‘strategic initiatives,’ ” he writes in an email note to Unstrung. “Any regional plan, being it NMT service in Montenegro or your mentioned Flarion in another subsidiary, will not be commented, neither [will] further details be disclosed by us.”
— Justin "Six Degrees" Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung