Telenor to contribute to mobile coverage on ferries and ships

Press release
5 minute read
As part of a share issue, Telenor will invest NOK 25 million in the Grimstad-based mobile company Maritime Communications Partner (MCP). Telenor will be the company's largest shareholder, holding 33.3 per cent of the shares. MCP has developed a unique concept to facilitate regular GSM coverage on board international ferries and ships. The six co-founders of the company all share a background from Ericsson's Grimstad branch.

Maritime Communications Partner was established in 2002, and currently employs 24 people. The share issue was given the final approval at the company's General Meeting on 3 May. Following the share issue, Telenor owns 33.3 per cent of the company, Andreas K.L. Ugland AS and Ugland Invest Ltd. own 11.2 per cent, and the investment company Northzone Ventures IV KS owns 12.1 per cent. Other smaller partners own 15.0 per cent. The remaining 28.4 per cent are divided between the six co-founders of the company. A total of NOK 38 million was raised through the share issue.

MCP's business concept is to supply coverage (voice and SMS) to regular mobile phone users on board ferries and ships. Mobile customers all over the world have grown accustomed to having mobile coverage wherever they go. One major exception has so far been at sea. Both on large international ferries and cruise ships as well as on smaller boats and ships trafficking waters that lie outside the national operators' areas of coverage, customers will now be able to use their own mobile handsets. From an end-user perspective, this will be perceived as a regular mobile service, identical to what customers are accustomed to from travelling abroad. Technically, coverage will be obtained in the normal way on board the ships, although signal transmission will be via satellite.

Telenor's Chief Technical Officer, Berit Svendsen, sees this investment as a prime example of the kind of innovative project Telenor should be involved in: "MCP's activities are basically furthering one of Telenor's core areas, which is the management of GSM operations. This service involves us expanding our area of coverage, enabling customers to use their own handsets on board ships and ferries. These are innovative activities that have their source in a very interesting technological cluster in Grimstad. We feel confident that we have entered into a sound business agreement, and we also see this as a way of assuming our responsibilities as an industrial leader in Norway," says Berit Svendsen.

"This successful share issue represents a breakthrough for us," says co-founder and CEO of MCP,

Trygve Sten Gustavsen. "We have now obtained an ideal balance of partners and investors on the ownership side. We see this as strong confirmation that our business idea of providing mobile coverage to people at sea represents an attractive business opportunity," says Sten Gustavsen, who also adds that the technology will soon be ready, and that testing is being conducted through a number of pilot projects. He expects the service to be launched on board the first ships already during 2004.

Chairman of the Board of MCP, Nils Erik Skarsgård, is well pleased with the development of the company: "The new shareholders give the company a constructive ownership structure, combining expertise from shipping, telecommunications and finance," Skarsgård says.

For further information, please contact:

Berit Svendsen, Chief Technical Officer, Telenor ASA, +47 905 20 773

Trygve Sten Gustavsen, CEO of MCP, +47 916 14 669

Dag Melgaard, Chief Press Spokesman Telenor ASA, +47 901 92 000