France Telecom appeals against Slovak license fee

Reuters

On Wednesday, Orange Slovakia, a unit of France Telecom (Paris, France), appealed a $58.6 million fee imposed by the Slovak telecommunication regulator for a 10-year extension of its license.

Orange, the euro zone country's largest mobile and internet services provider by number of clients, said the fee was unfair.

"The reason is lack of transparency of the process, discriminatory approach and factual imperfections in methodology and calculation of the fee," says Peter Toth, corporate affairs manager for Orange Slovensko.

The regulator said the size of the fee was calculated using anticipated trends in average revenue per user (ARPU) and outlook of number of clients until 2021. The regulator ruled on Aug. 11 that Orange had to pay the fee, but operators are allowed to appeal against any rulings.

The Slovak Telekom group, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, which has to pay a fee of $68.8 million, declined to comment on a possible appeal.

Local agency SITA cited the regulator as saying that Slovak Telekom has decided to fight the ruling too. Spain's Telefonica also operates in Slovakia, but it was not subject to a fee as it joined the market later than Orange and Slovak Telekom's unit T-Mobile.

Orange Slovenko's net profit fell 6.8%to $268 million last year. T-Mobile Slovensko's parent company Slovak Telekom Group, run by Deutsche Telekom, saw net profit drop 17% to $174 million last year.

The levy on operators comes with the government of Prime Minister Iveta Radicova looking for ways to boost revenues to secure pledged fiscal consolidation plan, backed by a package of tax hikes and spending cuts.

(Reporting by Petra Kovacova and Martin Santa; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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