Vimpelcom seeking an explanation from the authorities

23 Feb 2004

Russian cellco Vimpelcom has asked the country’s communications ministry to explain its decision not to award it with any additional frequencies to extend its GSM services across the country. According to Vimpelcom, Goskomsvyaz refused to award the company a concession to operate in Russia’s Far East region at the end of last year, and has since turned down every single request by it for additional bandwidth to enhance the capacity of its existing GSM systems. A spokesman for Vimpelcom claims that the ministry has made ‘97 decisions on frequencies’ in recent months, none of which favoured the operator. Whilst the regulator has defended its decisions as unbiased, many from the local analyst community believe the ministry’s actions are linked to a public dispute it has been having with Vimpelcom since the start of the year concerning the latter’s licence arrangements in Moscow. Vimpelcom’s operating licence in the capital is held by a subsidiary, but in recent months the parent company has been selling services on behalf of the local unit. Last month the authorities told Vimpelcom to bring a halt to the arrangement, claiming it constituted a breach of its concession agreement. Vimpelcom responded by launching a lawsuit against the regulator, which is due to be heard in court in four weeks time.