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Iceland prepares for release of multi-band spectrum for LTE
Although Iceland has one of Europe's smallest economies, it is an affluent country and its people are avid users of technology and telecom services. There is effective competition in the mobile and broadband markets, with a number of players having emerged to challenge the dominance of the two leading players Síminn and Vodafone Iceland. The new entrants Nova and 365 have expanded their launched fixed-line services, complementing their existing presence in the mobile phone market. Both launched mobile services in 2007, and by mid-2016 Nova had become a market leader in terms of the number of subscribers. 365 secured spectrum to develop national LTE services, but its coverage obligations were weakened in 2016 as its struggled against the pressure of a network sharing deal in place between Nova and Vodafone and with a state-funded fibre project aimed at delivering broadband to rural areas.
The telecom market for some years suffered from the effects of the economic downturn which erupted in 2008, though economic growth has translated into improved investment in the sector as the main telcos have been stimulated to upgrade mobile and fixed networks. The government has also been supportive by promoting Next Generation Access networks, particularly affecting rural areas.
The incumbent, Síminn, found itself in a precarious position with creditors as a result of it having hedged against the falling króna and the failure of banks to honour their currency swap agreements. With falling revenue the company was obliged to adopt efficiency measures and streamline its operations. Having undergone a restructure in 2013 to separate its wholesale and retail activities, the company in early 2015 gained regulatory approval to merge with its holding company Skipti.
Regulator opens consultation on auction of spectrum in the 700MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands;
Capital Advisers acquires Nova;
Regulator extends 900Hz concessions of Síminn and Vodafone for an additional five years;
Síminn's LTE network provides near 90% population coverage, delivering data at up to 150Mb/s;
Regulator caps the amount of frequencies which Vodafone Iceland and Nova can share;
Síminn lists on the Nasdaq Iceland exchange;
Regulator proposes reduction in MTRs effective from January 2017;
LTE licensees committed to providing 99% population.
Report update includes the regulator's annual report for 2015 and market data to June 2016, operator data updates, recent market developments.
Market penetration rates in Iceland's telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 47%
Fixed broadband | 38%
Mobile SIM (population) | 134%
Companies mentioned in this report:
Vodafone Iceland, Síminn, Nova, Tal, 365 Media.
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