By Elias Hazou
THE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) said on Monday that it is on track to roll out its 4G network, denying allegations that authorities deliberately held back the organisation from implementing the technology.
In a statement, CyTA said its 4G project is in the stage of implementation, and that they are on schedule, as agreed between the organisation, the Privatisations Commissioner and the inter-ministerial commission on privatisations.
“There has been no delay whatsoever,” the statement said.
CyTA also rejected claims that it stood to lose revenues over the next few years because private-sector competitors got into the 4G business earlier.
MTN and Primetel are already offering their customers 4G technology.
“This is simply not true, as CyTA will very soon acquire its own 4G network,” the state-owned enterprise said.
CyTA added that it is working on the infrastructure to ensure both maximum 4G coverage and a multitude of related applications.
The statement was in response to the racket raised by the AKEL party and the SIDIKEK-PEO trade union, who earlier claimed that the government was blocking CyTA from acquiring 4G.
Last week AKEL’s mouthpiece Haravghi ran a story claiming that Privatisations Commissioner Constantinos Herodotou, in cahoots with the government, had intentionally obstructed CyTA from introducing the new technology.
Haravghi even came up with a figure, saying CyTA would in the long term lose about €100m as a result of the government tampering.
The aim was clear, AKEL said: it was part of a plot to give private-sector competitors the edge, dealing a blow to CyTA and diminishing its value so that it could then be claimed that the organisation is uncompetitive.
This, said Christos Christofides of AKEL, would give the government more ammunition to argue that privatising CyTA was the right move.
The telecoms provider is one of a number of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) slated for privatisation, the revenues to be used by the state to pay down a €10bn international bailout.
According to AKEL, the government’s ultimate goal is for CyTA to be sold on the cheap to private operators and predatory investors.
AKEL is fiercely opposed to the coming privatisations.
Their accusations were rebuffed by the finance minister, who said the Privatisations Commissioner has no authority to meddle in what projects CyTA invests in.
He attributed any delays to red tape.
Sources who did not wish to be named told the Mail that the issue was being deliberately politicised.
Back in September, CyTA requested the funds to invest in the 4G project. Under the relevant law, any SOE slated to be privatised must secure approval for any major investment from the Privatisations Commissioner in consultation with the inter-ministerial committee.
The Privatisations Commissioner, the same sources said, was at the time unable to proceed with examining the request, because he did not have the specialist consultants to aid him in the task.
The government eventually hired the consultants, but not before one-and-a-half months had passed.
The funds for CyTA’s 4G project have since been okayed, the sources said.
It’s understood that CyTA aims to roll out the fourth-generation technology around the end of summer or autumn.