U.S. companies may get Prague phone deal

November 10, 1990|By Knight-Ridder News Service

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia -- Bell Atlantic and US West are expected to sign a $60 million deal with Czechoslovakia next week to build and operate a cellular mobile telephone network, it has been learned.

The contract would give the two U.S. regional phone companies a combined 49 percent share in the joint venture with the Czech government. The agreement is being readied for signature during the President Bush's visit to Prague, which is scheduled for Nov. 17, a senior government official said.

Both companies are among the front-runners for a much larger contract to digitize Czechoslovakia's obsolete telephone network. That deal would be worth an estimated $3 billion over the next 10 years.

Ales Michna, Czechoslovakia's telecommunications deputy minister, who confirmed the deal, said in an interview that the mobile telephone network is "essential" to help the country meet growing demand for telephone services. He estimated that the system, scheduled to become operational next October, would have 2 million customers within a decade.

There are 4.2 million telephone lines in Czechoslovakia, a country of 15.5 million people.

US West has already signed an accord to build Hungary's mobile telephone network.

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