Six Eastern European and Asian CDMA-450 mobile network operators have applied to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and their respective regulators for permission to use 450MHz spectrum for rural Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband services. Aside from Russia’s SkyLink, the other five networks that have made the request are Latvia’s Triatel, Belarus’s BelCel (Diallog), Czech Republic’s Mobilkom (U:Fon), Mongolia’s G-Mobile and Romania’s Zapp. Russian heavyweights Vimpelcom and MegaFon are also reportedly interested in re-farming spectrum and would be reluctant to see their rivals gaining any kind of LTE spectrum advantage, although they could look to form partnerships in order to enable rural coverage. Vimpelcom representative Yelena Prokhorova has warned that the distribution of frequencies in the 450MHz band would necessitate a widespread ‘cleaning up’ of frequencies.
Trade association the CDMA Development Group reported that as of August 2010 there were 117 CDMA-450 networks in 62 countries in commercial operation with another 17 networks in nine countries being deployed. The operational networks include 107 offering CDMA2000 1x-based services, 46 1xEV-DO (3G) and 26 1xEV-DO Rev A (3.5G).