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Seven apply for four Norwegian cell phone licenses

OSLO, Norway — Seven bidding groups met Monday's afternoon deadline to apply for four licenses to launch the next generation of wireless phone technology in Norway, according to the Ministry of Communications.

Norwegians are among the world's biggest mobile phone users -- some 60 percent of the 4.5 million population use them -- but the government opted against the bidding wars that resulted in billions of dollars for Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.

Instead, it set a price of 100 million kroner ($11.18 million) plus 20 million kroner per year ($2.25 million) a year per license. The government will award licenses to the concerns with the best overall proposals.

The government was pleased with the number of applicants and said it would make a decision later this year.

"Such competition will help ensure an effective use of resources,'' Minister of Transport and Communications Terje Moe Gustavsen in a news release.

The new cellular phone standard has a transmission speed nearly 40 times than the existing standard, allowing mobile-phones be used more like computers with the capacity to access the Internet and even display videos.

The applicants in Norway were: Broadband Mobile ASA, a joint venture between Norway's Enitel ASA and the international Sonora Corp.; Norway's state phone Telenor ASA; Tele2 Norge AS and Netcom GSM AS.

Also bidding were Orange Norway AS, an eight company consortium led by Britain's Orange and Bredband Mobil AB; BusinessNet AS, a joint venture between Tele 1 Europe AS, Western Wireless International and Rix Telecom; and a Norwegian consortium of Orkla ASA, the Dagbladet newspaper, Hafslund ASA, Hakon Gruppen ASA, NorgesGruppen ASA, the housing cooperative OBOS/NBBL and the Norwegian postal service Posten Norge AB.

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