According to Dow Jones Newswires, Russian conglomerate AFK Sistema has reached an agreement with the government to be reimbursed for the loss of certain radio spectrum frequencies owned by its disparate businesses in the Moscow region. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in August 2011 local press reports emerged indicating that the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC) was preparing to green-light a proposal which would see Sistema effectively relinquish its indirectly owned WiMAX frequencies in Moscow and the surrounding suburbs in exchange for alternative Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable frequencies. Sistema subsidiary Comstar-UTS launched WiMAX services in the capital in 2009 after securing spectrum in the 2.5GHz–2.7GHz range in 2007. The SRFC’s move represented part of a larger project to reallocate the higher-range frequencies utilised in Moscow by a number of operators, including WiMAX-turned-LTE provider Scartel (Yota) and television companies Kosmos-TV (also owned by Sistema) and Mostelecom (controlled by Rostelecom), which are set to be reallocated in a spectrum tender later this year.
Dow Jones claims that the compensation will be at least RUB1.5 billion (USD51.1 million), and be supplied by the winners of the tender. Complicating the issue of compensation, Sistema’s wireless unit Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is one of the companies that has already been issued with an LTE licence in Moscow, alongside Scartel.