Comviq (originally Comvik) is a Swedish prepaid mobile phone brand, fully owned by Tele2 and operating in Tele2s network. The original Comvik operation is the predecessor to two listed companies: Tele2 and Millicom.
The company was established in Sweden as Comvik in 1981 as an attempt to break the existing monopoly at the time. During the 1980s, investor Jan Stenbeck's strategy was to pursue, break up and create alternatives to the existing Swedish monopolies in service sectors including telephony and media. In the late 1970s Mr Stenbecks Investment AB Kinnevik started to buy a number of smaller companies in Stockholm and Gothenburg that operated manual communication networks for car based equipment. Through an operator the driver could reach the public telephone network. Eventually these companies were merged and rebranded AB Företagstelefon in Stockholm. In parallel – and in the quiet – the plans were more ambitious. Completely new equipment was purchased, new telephone terminals were developed and then in 1981 Kinnevik launched Comvik. One of the world’s first automatic analogue mobile telephony networks, a few months ahead of the Swedish Telecom (Televerket) deployment of its NMT network.
Since Swedish Telecom had a monopoly on telecommunications and the radio spectrum, a conflict arose between Televerket and Comvik. After many very public arguments where Televerket even threatened to disconnect Comvik from the public telephone network, the new non-socialistic government gave Comvik permission to continue and expand to a limited extent. Comvik asked for and got a few more frequencies. Finally Comvik had 27 frequencies. Televerkets NMT system had 180 frequencies. Comvik had to expand into cell-based technology that today forms the basis of mobile telephony. The Swedish based Ericsson sold no equipment to Comvik who instead had to develop the technology themselves using a mixture of suppliers. Comvik built up a customer base of 20,000 subscribers. In order to compete with Televerket they had a lower per-minute rate and offered free calls on evenings and weekends. Comvik also launched several value added services aiming at small businesses.
Comvik received the “Service Company of the Year” award by the Nordics largest business newspaper Dagens Industri in 1987 on the grounds that Comvik broke up the existing monopoly and introduced customer choice. Because of the competitive situation, it was difficult to operate. There were no additional frequencies available, the customer base could not be increased and the company went with heavy losses. However with the stoic attitude and changing public attitudes versus monopolies, Comvik was finally awarded a formal GSM license in 1988 to be operated in competition with Televerket.
With the help from its Comvik experience Kinnevik also acquired mobile licenses around the globe and initially used the “Comvik International” moniker. Networks were built in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mauritius and other countries. Those activities were later one of the pillars forming Millicom International Cellular.
In 1991 Kinnevik branded the new GSM network “Comviq” and in 1992 it was finally launched. The old Comvik name was retained for the analog network for another few years before it eventually was phased out.
Comviq GSM merged with Tele2 in 1997, but the name Comviq was retained as a brand, together with Tele2's own brand Tele2 Mobile. In 2004 name was changed to Tele2Comviq. In 2007 the brand was completely replaced by Tele2 brand.
In 1997, the mother company introduced Comviq Kontant as the first prepaid card in Sweden. Despite Tele2Comviq being dropped for GSM, the Comviq name was retained for the prepaid cards with a new logo and design introduced to distinguish it as a debit card. In 2012 the brand was re-launched again as a very price competitive and simplistic pre-paid card.
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