Telia ‘could be split up’

TeliaSonera could be split up, Sweden's government has said, with the phone network and services put into separate companies.

Infrastructure Minister Åsa Torstensson has commissioned a report from Sweden’s telecoms regulator, PTS, on how the company could be split. It has also asked PTS to look at alternatives to splitting the Swedish-Finnish corporation, which is made of both countries’ former monopoly telecom providers.

TeliaSonera’s competitors complain that the current system, in which Telia owns the network over which all telecoms companies operate, gives the company an unfair advantage. Other operators currently have to buy bandwidth on the copper network from Telia.

Telecom companies such as Telenor say that Telia’s control over the traditional phone network has hindered the development of broadband in Sweden.

In a statement released on Thursday, Torstensson appeared to agree with Telia’s critics.

“Sweden has fallen behind in rankings showing the number of homes with broadband connections. I hope that PTS can work out a proposal that will create greater possibilities for more households to get broadband,” she said.

Telia, which is 43.5 percent owned by the Swedish state, has resisted calls to separate, but the company has vowed to change its system to give its competitors fairer access to its network.

The PTS enquiry is due to be completed on 15th June. The regulator has been asked to create “clear rules of engagement” for all companies in the telecoms market.

The government has previously announced that it plans to sell some or all of its stake in TeliaSonera, as part of a wide-ranging privatization programme.