German mobile operator E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH is negotiating to buy the 3G network of struggling operator MobilCom, which has already established a network covering 17% of the German population. In return, according to a report in Financial Times Deutschland, it will waive E600 million($582 million) claims resulting from a services contract with MobilCom.
E-Plus is owned by Royal KPN Telecom NV, and its CEO Ad Scheepbouwer said in April that E-Plus would play a pivotal role in the consolidation of 3G mobile networks. MobilCom had made significant progress on rolling out its 3G network before shareholder France Telecom SA pulled the plug on funding and the company was only saved from bankruptcy by a government loan.
It had secured the rights to 3,600 base station locations across Germany, 1,800 of which now have the requisite buildings and electrical supplies in place, and 900 of which are fully equipped with 3G transmission equipment.
If the deal goes through, E-Plus will have the opportunity to be a leader in 3G services in Europe’s biggest market. However, whether or not this is an advantage, given the present uncertain state of the technology, remains to be seen.