Ukraine’s dominant fixed line operator Ukrtelecom has revealed that it is pondering the rollout of a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network. The country’s largest broadband provider, with services mainly based on xDSL technology, has suspended plans for deploying a large scale fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) network and is now considering instead rolling out fibre even further into customers’ premises with technology based on Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON)/FTTH. Acting CEO Igor Kravets announced: ‘We are actively now considering a draft GPON / FTTH. I think we are more likely to [pursue this plan], and not [focusing] on FTTB. We study the experience of other countries, particularly Russia… GPON [proves] less costly and more effective.’ According to Kravets, a GPON/FTTH rollout can in certain circumstances prove more cost effective than FTTB. The acting chief executive also bemoaned the continued lack of licensing for providing nationwide IPTV content to broadband subscribers, with the national telco having already negotiated video-on-demand (VoD) content with third-party providers. ‘The range of services we have done, but there is no licence,’ he declared.
In early May, Ukrtelecom set a target for new investments in its fixed broadband network totaling around UAH550 million (USD68 million), quadruple the total CAPEX budget of UAH135.4 million set for 2012, according to Kravets, who added that Ukrtelecom hopes to attract a further 400,000 subscribers to its fixed broadband user base, which totaled 1.406 million at the end of March 2012. Of an overall investment programme of UAH888 million, around 60% is earmarked for broadband. Meanwhile Ukrtelecom has reportedly budgeted investment of UAH80 million in its 3G mobile network development this year; its struggling cellular division has been separated into a standalone unit – Trimob – and put up for sale, but with no agreement on pricing yet reached with potential buyers, it has been rumoured that the divestment has been cancelled for the time being, at least according to one of the would-be suitors, Russian-backed MTS Ukraine, which has claimed that Ukrtelecom has ‘abandoned’ the plan.