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Bulgaria's largest fuel retailer launches virtual mobile network operator

Date: 21.10.2008

Petrol, Bulgaria's largest fuel retailer owned by domestic capital and one of the largest in terms of revenue, said on Octobe 20 2008 that it would launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) called Petrol Mobile, website investor.bg reported.

MVNOs are mobile operators that does not own a licensed wireless system, but instead buys such services from an established company, reselling them under its own name. Petrol Mobile will buy network capacity from Mobiltel, Bulgaria's largest cellphone operator, the company said as quoted by investor.bg.

The calling prefix for the new operator is 098 and is owned by Mobiltel, the Bulgarian subsidiary of Telekom Austria. Earlier in October, Bulgaria's telecoms regulator allocated Mobiltel a block of one million numbers with the prefix 098.

The service would be starting on October 22 and would target the lower end of the market with pre-paid voice services and text messaging (SMS), but no frills like multimedia messaging (MMS) or internet access.

The prepaid package would be sold for 7.68 leva in all Petrol fuelling stations. The operator would have a flat tariff of 0.29 leva a minute, value-added tax included, for calls to all other operators and text messages would be billed 0.12 leva, VAT included.

Petrol has tried to acquire a mobile license earlier this year, when the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) put one for sale. WiMAX operator Trans Telecom, owned by Petrol, bought the tender documentation, but did not put in a bid. Industry sources have said that despite high interest, few companies were willing to pay the high price demanded by CRC, which envisioned bidding in an auction to start at 38 million leva.

Only Liechtenstein-based MVNO Telco AG made an offer before the deadline, with CRC later scrapping the tender altogether.

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