Regulator, Tymoshenko urging 3G, LTE frequency conversion

23 Apr 2014

Ukrainian telecoms regulator the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR or NKRZI) has requested the government allow the usage of UAH200 million (USD15.6 million) in retained earnings from the Ukrainian State Centre of Radio Frequencies (UCRF) for the conversion of 2100MHz band 3G wireless frequencies from the military to be allocated to commercial mobile network operations, ProIT reports. The NCCIR’s chairman Peter Yatsuk appealed to the government to contribute to the Commission’s joint initiative with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the ‘implementation of priority measures to modernise radio facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the band 2GHz and translate them into other frequency bands [for commercial mobile broadband usage]’. Yatsuk accompanied this appeal with a separate request for assistance from the government and the National Television & Radio Broadcasting Council in implementing the NCCIR’s proposals to release the ‘digital dividend’ 790MHz-862MHz radio frequency band from TV broadcasting usage and reallocate it for 4G LTE mobile broadband, using the directives of the European Union as a model. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that as far back as August 2007 Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers cleared public funding for the process of freeing up radio spectrum currently allocated for MoD use in the 2100MHz band, but plans have been repeatedly blocked as the NCCIR and the MoD could not agree on the cost of conversion for the release of the 3G frequencies, leaving Ukrtelecom (TriMob) as the country’s sole 2100MHz 3G (UMTS) licensee. The database adds that under previously announced plans, frequencies in the 800MHz range were earmarked for 4G usage in 2012-2016 via the redistribution of bands from the switchover to digital TV.

Echoing the regulatory head’s request to initiate the long-delayed mobile broadband frequency conversion, ProIT writes that Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko has written a letter to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urging that the necessary steps are taken to facilitate modern technologies for mobile internet in Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s letter refers to another delayed proposed plan of the NCCIR, to implement the conversion of existing 900MHz and 1800MHz GSM mobile frequency licences to technology-neutral concessions, thereby allowing 3G UMTS-900 and 4G LTE-1800 service launches. The plan is pending a government decision to allow the licence conversion via amendments to the National Radio Frequency Plan as well as some redistribution/refarming of frequencies to maximise the efficiency of the bands currently allocated to operators. In her letter, Tymoshenko stressed that the introduction of technological neutrality alongside the conversion of 2100MHz band former-MoD spectrum would significantly boost investment in the telecoms sector as well as earning government income from licensing.

In another related development, Ukrainian cellco Astelit (life:)) has disagreed with the details of larger rival Kyivstar’s proposal to refarm 900MHz/1800MHz frequencies published earlier this month. As reported by ProIT, Astelit – which is jointly-backed by Turkcell and Ukrtelecom’s parent SCM – said that Kyivstar’s proposed refarming system would not translate into a fair distribution for all cellcos, although it did back the general aims of redistributing the frequencies under the technology-neutral principle.