VIENNA, July 30 Austria's mobile carriers got a go-ahead to re-use spectrum for third- and fourth-generation services, enabling the two smaller players to compete better with Telekom Austria.
The country's telecoms regulator said on Wednesday it had approved the so-called refarming of frequencies that Hutchison Whampoa and T-Mobile Austria had originally acquired for second-generation networks.
The decision will allow Hutchison's Austrian telecoms unit, Drei, to start rolling out a national fourth-generation LTE telecoms network, with which it plans to reach over half the population by the end of 2014, matching Telekom Austria.
"Now we can go forward as planned with our 4G rollout," a Drei spokesman said by email.
The decision will also allow T-Mobile Austria to speed up its rollout of LTE, which is about 10 times faster than third-generation services.
T-Mobile now covers about 30 percent of the Austrian population with LTE, and plans to reach 40 percent by the end of the year.
Market leader Telekom Austria has 40-45 percent LTE coverage now and aims for over 50 percent by the end of the year.
Drei lost out to Telekom Austria and Deutsche Telekom T-Mobile in a costly spectrum auction last year, emerging with none of the most valuable frequencies, making the refarming especially important for it. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)