Scartel, Rostelecom threaten to sue government over LTE frequency allocations

21 Oct 2010

The Russian public prosecutor’s office has reportedly started an investigation into the activities of Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor over the handling of Scartel’s planned use of frequencies in the 2.5GHz – 2.7GHz spectrum band. In August 2010 Roskomnadzor revoked Scartel’s permission to use some of the frequencies issued to its Yota brand. The frequencies, 20MHz-30MHz in the 2.5GHz-2.7GHz band – which were intended for use in Yota’s Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network in 170 cities – were revoked due to a ‘violation of the law’. At the time Scartel promised to protect its interests in court. The public prosecutor’s office maintains that the award process and subsequent annulment of the licence was not transparent enough; Alexander Katulevsky, the head of Roskomnadzor, is also under investigation.

In other related news, long-distance carrier Rostelecom has indicated that it may sue the Russian Defence Ministry for failing to respond to its application for frequencies in the 2.3GHz – 2.4GHz band in a timely manner. Rostelecom needs the frequencies to develop its LTE network in three designated pilot areas: Tver, Perm and Pyatigorsk. In March 2010 Rostelecom won a permit to build a wireless broadband access network that will eventually cover a third of the Russian population. The licence gave the operator 30MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz – 2.4GHz band for each constituent region. Under the conditions of its licence, Rostelecom has 18 months to build and launch its 4G network, using Russian-made equipment. However, approval from the Defence Ministry, which retains the bulk of the country’s frequencies, is also required for the project. The Defence Ministry was expected to give its answer to the application in October but has not yet responded to Rostelecom’s application. A source close to the company told RIA Novosti that the ministry privately plans to deny Rostelecom the use of the frequencies, forcing the operator to consider legal action. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Rostelecom won concessions to 38 of the 40 Russian regions covered by March’s LTE tender.

Russia, Rostelecom, Scartel (Yota)