There is certainly no such thing as a dull moment in Romania’s TV industry these days.
Only this week, Orange came out publicly to say that it may take over UPC, the country’s leading cable operator. This time last year such a statement would have sounded far-fetched, but today it looks perfectly feasible: the MSO lost a large number of cable TV subscribers in 2007 and is already involved in a quadruple play venture with the France Telecom company.
Orange, meanwhile, is riding on the crest of a wave in Romania. Though facing strong competition from Vodafone, it is the clear market leader in the mobile sector and has just posted its 10 millionth subscriber. Its future plans include the introduction of iPhone and securing one of two WiMAX licences likely to be awarded later this year.
Also this week has come the news that Deutsche Telekom is to buy a 19.9% stake in the Greek incumbent telco OTE for around €2.5 billion. The German company already has a strong presence in the region through ownership of incumbents in such countries as Hungary and Slovakia. Buy buying into OTE, it will also be taking an indirect stake in Romanian’s Romtelecom.
Romtelecom has already established a strong presence in the DTH sector through its platform Dolce, which recently reached 400,000 subscribers. Although its plans to also launch an IPTV platform appear to be on hold, they could well be resurrected by OTE’s new shareholder, which has extensive experience in the sector.
On the down side, the NetCity project continues to attract criticism. Following last week’s visit to Hungary, Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Info Society and Media, moved on to Romania, where she warned that the EU would not accept new monopolies in the IT market.
Construction work on the project, which will see a fibre-optic network built in Bucharest at a cost of some €220 million, is apparently already under way. It remains to be seen whether the EU eventually deems it to be anti-competitive.