Seven firms apply for 32 licences in Far Eastern Russia; three additional tenders slated for April

3 Mar 2011

According to business news agency Prime-Tass, Russia’s Federal Supervision Agency for IT, Communications and Media (Roskomnadzor) has received a total of seven bids for the first of four tenders to provide GSM mobile services in the 1800MHz frequency band across Russia. The tender, which is scheduled to begin on 12 April, is for a total of ten licences in the Kamchatka and Sakhalin regions and the Chukotka Autonomous District. A total of 32 licences in 17 of Russia’s 83 regions are slated for distribution during 1H11. Future licences will apply to both the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands. Among the initial bidders are mobile operators MegaFon and Vimpelcom; two separate subsidiaries of mobile operator Tele2 Russia (which operate in the Omsk and Chelyabinsk regions); cellular provider New Telephone Company (NTK), which operates in the Primorsky Region; wireline operator Rostelecom; and DLD/ILD operator OSS-Telekom. The regulator reportedly stopped accepting bids last Friday. However, offers are still welcome for the second and the third tenders, which are both scheduled for 19 April, and the fourth tender which is slated for 26 April.

It is believed that the future 900MHz tenders will relate to licences in the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Koryaksk District of the Kamchatka Territory, the Ust-Ordynsk Buryatsk District of the Irkutsk region, and the Ulyansk and Penza regions. 1800MHz tenders still pending are planned for the Evensk Autonomous District of the Krasnoyark Territory, Ust-Ordynsk Buryatsk District of the Irkutsk region, the Khanty-Mansiisk District, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, the Kurgan region and the Komi-Perm District of the Perm Territory. Local press reports have indicated that the main struggle for frequencies will be between fixed line operator Rostelecom and Tele2 Russia, with Rostelecom primarily interested in securing licences in the regions where its fellow Svyazinvest subsidiaries do not yet hold GSM licences; chiefly the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Chukotsk Autonomous District, the Khabarovsk territory and the Amur region.

Vimpelcom has long coveted frequencies in the Far Eastern Federal District; the only area where it does not yet have a full complement of GSM licences. In January Vimpelcom press secretary Anna Aybasheva commented: ‘Vimpelcom needs to receive frequencies in the Far East. In recent years, the company has applied on numerous occasions for GSM frequencies required to operate in the Far East region, only to be turned down. The results of the 2007 tenders for the Far East and Siberia were categorically unsatisfactory to Vimpelcom, as the operator managed to be awarded frequencies in only three regions, not including Primorsk territory. Most of the lots were won by Summa Telecom, which had no experience in providing cellular services, but managed to win due to its large licence portfolio’. After protracted legal action, including several lawsuits filed by Vimpelcom, the original tenders for the Far East and Siberia were declared null and void. It has been rumoured that of the 32 licences up for grabs on 26 April, as many as 25 were withdrawn from Summa Telecom, although TeleGeography has been unable to verify the reports.

Russia, Beeline (Russia), MegaFon, New Telephone Company (NTK), Rostelecom, Tele2 Russia