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Telenor offers euro1M for Serb fixed phones license

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Norway’s Telenor ASA offered about euro1 million ($1.45 million) to acquire the license to become Serbia’s second landline telephone operator, the country’s telecommunications agency said Friday.

Telenor, which already has a mobile phone network in Serbia, was the only company of five unidentified firms that showed interest in the license to make a legal bid, RATEL said.

It said Telenor has offered euro1,050,000 in its bid for the new fixed phone lines, adding that the telecommunications agency will decide whether to accept the offer by Feb. 10.

Some RATEL officials said the bid was too low.

Telenor Serbia CEO, Kjell-Morten Johnsen, said the offer would not be increased.

“Fixed telephony in Serbia is not profit-making,” he said. “The future of the license depends on investments.”

Telenor plans to construct a fiber-optic landline network that would connect all major Serbian cities, Johnsen said.

Serbia’s government invited companies that already has at least one million users and revenue of more than euro200 million a year to bid for the license by last Tuesday.

Serbia’s landline phone market has been entirely dominated by Telekom Serbia, which has faced criticism for allegedly poor connections and maintenance.

Some rural parts of Serbia still do not have fixed phone lines, while many users in the capital Belgrade have waited years to have their homes connected to landlines.

The license for the second fixed phone operator in Serbia will be granted for 10 years, with the possibility of extension.