Project 4 (P4) -, Poland
Project 4 (P4) (formerly Netia Mobile) is a new mobile telecoms operator set up in Poland by the Icelandic fund Novator and the Polish alternative fixed-line operator Netia in September 2004. Netia holds a 30% stake in P4, with 70% held by Novator.
P4 was granted a 3G UMTS license in August 2005 and aims to become a distinctive player on the Polish market for mobile communications offering competitive facilities combined with new mobile broadband services. P4 intends for their products and services will be easy to understand, simple to use and both entertaining and relevant to deal with.
P4 services will be suitable for both corporate industries and the individual consumer. This network will be the first 3G network for P4 who expect to invest over €650m in the development of this 3G network across Poland over the next ten years.
Polkomtel, the operator of the Plus and Sami Swoi mobile networks, agreed to let P4 into its network by virtue of a domestic roaming agreement in May 2006. This is the first contract of this kind in Poland.
The signing of the agreement was delayed by Vodafone, one of the Polkomtel's shareholders, who eventually agreed but emphasised that some issues have to be clarified. Despite this the companies have signed a contract which will permit P4 to offer mobile services via Polkomtel's network.
Polkomtel emphasised that the contract marks the moment at which they begin operations as a wholesaler and that further agreements will follow. P4 insists that the appearance of new players on the mobile market will result in a significant reduction in prices of the telecommunications services in Poland. The size of the contract is unknown.
It was, however, revealed that P4 will not be allowed to sign such a contract with another mobile operator. The contract runs for five years with an option of a two-year extension. The Electronic Communication Office in Poland (UKE) had promised that it would force Polkomtel, owner of the Plus GSM mobile phone network, to make its network accessible to new 3G service provider P4, by the end of 2006.
CONTRACTOR FOR NEW NETWORK
P4 selected Huawei as its 3G network infrastructure partner in Poland in February 2006. The first phase of the contract was worth €150m and will provide wireless coverage around the major population centres of Poland (Gdansk, Warsaw, Wodz, Krakow).
The decision marks a significant step in the availability of P4 services in Poland; the first phase is expected to be completed by late 2006.
Under the agreement, Huawei have provided their total end-to-end UMTS solution, which includes HSDPA technology, UTRAN, UMTS radio base station system, softswitch-based core network, 3G mobile intelligent network, 3G mobile data service platform and 3G handsets.
The whole UMTS network is based upon 3GPP R4 and the core network is based upon softswitch architecture. Based on its popular in-house-designed ASIC chip, Huawei is providing a full-performance HSDPA solution, the data rates will peak at 14.4Mbps downstream.
The further evolution of mobile services will see customers enjoying improved high-quality content and entertainment, greater productivity and further mobilising of business applications. P4 will be able to provide diversified 3G services including multimedia messaging (MMS), video phone, video conferencing, video streaming, pocket TV and internet surfing.
P4 UPDATE TO SERVICES
P4 confirmed that it will launch commercial services by the end of Q107, despite numerous problems and delays in its network rollout. Over the past 12 months, since the tender for 3G licensing was resolved, the company has contracted with Huawei to supply 3G infrastructure and also with Comverse for software and communication systems. P4 have also signed a contract with Arvato Services for the maintenance of an external Call Centre located in Poznañ.
The company is focusing its efforts on constructing its own network to provide 3G services. So far the company has signed nearly 600 lease contracts, submitted 500 applications for conditions for local land development and 700 applications for environmental assessments required for project approval. P4 currently employs 200 people. By the end of 2006 that number had grown to 500. P4 is currently working on the implementation of a billing system and will launch its own call centre by mid-2007.
The P4 3G (UMTS) brand ‘Play’ was set to be launched at the end of March 2007 with an advertising campaign to support it starting on 8 March 2007. P4 was originally headed for commercial launch in the fourth quarter of 2006, but was forced to postpone market entry due to delays in infrastructure roll out. The company continues to face difficulties with obtaining building permits for its base stations, but has decided to roll out its products with a lower-than-expected base station count. The company will continue to use the infrastructure of third-largest mobile phone operator Polkomtel under a domestic roaming agreement it signed with the operator in the second half of 2006.
At the commercial launch of ‘Play’ the company should have between 100 and 200 of its own base stations. P4 hopes to cover some 20% of the Polish population by the launch date. The Play brand will initially be distributed through 100 outlets, including selected outlets of the retail chain Empik, electronics stores Media Markt and Saturn, as well as stands placed in the largest shopping malls. This distribution chain should represent over 3,000 outlets. Starting in May 2007, P4 will also begin selling through more than 200 stores run by Germanos, which will become part of the P4 group in exchange for shares issued to its owner Tollerton Investments Ltd. Germanos currently distributes the services of Deutsche Telekom unit Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC), a deal that expires at end-April.
COMVERSE BILLING SYSTEMS AND SERVICES
Comverse announced in May 2006 that it had been awarded a contract by P4 to supply a broad array of solutions and services from its total communication portfolio.
These include the converged billing solution, InSight next generation platform and services, Multimedia Messaging Service Centre (MMSC), Short Message Service Centre (SMSC), Mobile Data Gateway (MDG), notification services and other services designed to offer a superior user experience and generate additional revenues.
The converged billing solution system allows the operator to manage its entire customer base consistently and efficiently. It provides real-time customer management for both pre-paid and post-paid users and for voice and data services. In this way, operators can drive usage with dynamic one-to-one marketing based on real-time information.
MACH FINANCIAL CLEARING FOR P4
MACH, one of the leading providers of inter-operator solutions to the telecommunications and data industry worldwide announced in October 2006 that it had opened a regional office in Poland to strengthen its global Client Support programme and service development. MACH was also selected by P4 to deliver data and financial clearing. MACH’s regional presence was key to their selection by P4.
Chris Bannister, Chief Executive Officer of P4 said: “The mobile market in Poland is growing rapidly. We are keen to make sure that our customers from the outset benefit from a comprehensive portfolio of services including dependable and secure international roaming… Not only can MACH offer expertise in data and financial clearing, they combine global reach with local understanding to provide a service that fits with what we are looking for.”