The Portuguese government has launched a public tender for the award of four universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS) licences. Seven bids have been submitted by the following companies:

  • TMN, which is 100% owned by the Portuguese incumbent;

  • Optimus, which has Sonae as its major shareholder and ONI and Maxitel as its minor shareholders;

  • Oniway, a consortium incorporated by EDP, BCP, Telenor, Iberdrola, Brisa, Efacec, Impresa, Media Capital, Jerónimo Martins and Grapes;

  • Telecel, of which Vodafone is the major shareholder;

  • Leadcom, a consortium incorporated by Vivendi, Finantel, Cofina, Pararede and BIG;

  • Titancon, created by Maxitel and Joe Berardo; and

  • Mobijazz, a consortium composed of Jazztel, Sonera, Mota/Engil, JP Morgan and Central Banco.

The public opening of the bids took place in early October. During the public opening Titancon filed a complaint against the admission of the proposals made by TMN, Telecel and Mobijazz, since their proposals exceeded the volumes permitted under the terms of the tender regulations. However, the evaluation commission rejected the complaint and accepted all the proposals presented. The commission is now evaluating the proposals according to the following criteria, which are weighted in order of importance:

  • contribution to the development of the information society (50%);

  • contribution to effective competition (20%);

  • technical quality, including the sharing of infrastructures (15%);

  • quality of the economical and financial plan (8%); and

  • contribution to the development of a duly sustained economy (7%).

Proposals which offer roaming services with second generation systems (ie, global systems for mobile communication and defence communications systems) will be at an advantage.

The tender regulations limit the share capital which a licensed operator may hold (directly or indirectly) in the share capital of another licensed operator to 10%. Therefore, should ONI be awarded a UMTS licence it will be obliged to sell its participation in the share capital of Optimus.

The public tender is likely to be the most suitable means of granting UMTS licences, since the terms and conditions of the bids presented (ie, network coverage and investment requirements) will be binding on the bidders. This would not necessarily be the case in the event of an auction established for this purpose.

The licences will be awarded for a period of 15 years and will cost €100 million each. Licences are expected to be granted by the end of the year and the provision of UMTS services will begin in January 2002.

For more information see

For further information on this topic please contact Margarida Couto at Vieira de Almeida & Associados by telephone (+351 21 311 3400) or by fax (+351 21 354 89 39) or by e-mail ([email protected]).
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