The Czech Republic's three mobile phone operators could become four in the not-too-distant future, the iDnes news server reported this week. iDnes said the Czech Telecoms Office had granted a code and allocated numbers for a new network. The name of the operator is not yet known, but the licence is held by a company called Mobilkom, linked to the Central European investment group Penta. The new operator will compete with the three existing mobile phone networks - O2, Vodafone and T-Mobile.
The Czech Republic seemed to emerged unscathed from Russia's spat with Belarus over oil supplies, analysts said. The three-day suspension of Russian oil supplies to Central Europe had no effect on the price of petrol or diesel at Czech filling stations. Analysts said prices remained unaffected because the dispute had been resolved quickly. Nonetheless, governments in the EU appear to be increasingly nervous about reliance on Russian energy supplies.
There was a new twist in the motorway toll saga this week when the company that built the toll network - Austria's Kapsch - announced it was planning to sue unsuccessful Italian bidder Autostrade. Kapsch's CEO Karel Feix told the media that Autostrade's decision to file a complaint over the tender had led to costly delays. Kapsch claims Autostrade used misleading information to justify the complaint.
Two of the fiercest rivals in the world of brewing - US beer giant Anheuser Busch and Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar - signed a distribution deal this week, despite their ongoing battle over the brand name Budweiser. Under the deal, Anheuser Busch will distribute Budvar beer in the US under the trade name "Czechvar". However the deal has no effect on the legal battle over the use of the Budweiser brand, which has been raging for more than a century.
There was good news for Internet users this week, after the Prague Post newspaper reported that an Irish company was planning to introduce free broadband wireless access in the city's cafes and hotels. The first wireless hotspot will be unveiled at Prague's Cafe Vysehrad on January 20th, with hundreds more introduced throughout the year. The service, run by a company called Anacapa, is supported by advertisements.
The carmaker Skoda Auto said it had enjoyed a record year in 2006, with sales up 11.7 percent to a record high of 550,000. Skoda Auto, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, said the results had exceeded management's expectations. The company, based in Mlada Boleslav, near Prague, said it had taken on 700 new employees and would employ even more staff this year.
The Association of Czech Travel Agencies say they too had a good year last year, with the number of foreign tourists growing four percent year-on-year to around 6.6 million. They brought with them a lot of money - spending around 113 billion crowns, or some 5.2 billion dollars in the country. Germans accounted for around a quarter of the foreign visitors, followed by Britons, Italians and Americans. The figures showed that the number of Russians choosing to visit the Czech Republic on holiday is rising steadily.
And a Belarussian news agency reported this week that Czech tycoon Petr
Kellner - sometimes described as the country's richest man - had acquired
a small Belarussian bank. Kellner, co-owner of the Czech investment group
PPF, is reported to have bought Lorobank for 4.8 million euros. A
spokeswoman for PPF said the deal had not been finalised.