TDF Plans To Sell Finnish Mobile Broadband Unit

HELSINKI (Reuters) – France’s TDF said it planned to sell or close its loss-making Finnish mobile broadband network, one of the first of its kind in the world. Finland in 2005 awarded Digita, local unit of TDF, a licence for the network using Flash-OFDM technology in 450 MHz radio spectrum, enabling coverage across long distances of the sparsely-populated country with relatively small investments.

Flash-OFDM technology — created by Flarion, which was bought in 2005 by Qualcomm (QCOM.O) — is a standalone mobile broadband technology, which has failed to gain wider support competing against established mobile technologies. Digita said there are only 18,000 subscribers in the network, with lack of different devices hampering take-up.

“With current subscriber base and development reaching positive cash flow is not possible,” said Kari Risberg, director at Digita.

“Our primary option is to sell the network. I believe someone wants it,” he said, adding one of the telecoms operators in Finland would be the most natural buyer. 

TeliaSonera (TLSN.ST) and three smaller operators currently use Digita’s 450 network. TDF operates broadcasting transmission networks and provides other services in the audiovisual, media and telecoms sectors.

According to TDF’s website, private equity firm Texas Pacific Group [TPG.UL] has a 42 percent stake in the company. French state-bank Caisse des Depots has a 24 percent stake while AXA Private Equity (AXAF.PA) has an 18 percent holding. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)