3G deadline missed; no official explanation

20 Aug 2014

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers failed to comply with a Presidential Decree which set a 15 August deadline to implement a set of urgent measures on the conversion of 2100MHz band frequencies from military usage to commercial 3G UMTS mobile communications, ProIT reports, adding that no official reason has yet been given for the delay. The Cabinet has not yet adopted a draft resolution which would allow a tender for 3G licences to be launched with a target date for licensing of 30 October, whilst under the Decree the Ministry of Defence must authorise/arrange the frequency conversion to be funded by the mobile operators’ licence bids in the tender. In the absence of a government statement on the matter, Michael Shuranov, director of corporate communications at the largest cellco Kyivstar, was quoted as saying: ‘In accordance with the Decree of the President, [by] 15 August the military had to make arrangements for the conversion of radio frequencies, and to notify the NCCIR [National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications & Informatization]. Since this process is not public, we do not have it on reliable and publicly available information. We hope to see a plan of conversion in the final conditions of the tender for the licences [in the] 2100MHz range, when the latter is announced.’ Oleg Prozhivalsky, director of corporate governance at rival cellco MTS Ukraine was more pessimistic, stating: ‘If the NCCIR [does] not announce the start of the competition this week, then to sum it up, on 30 October [licensing] will be technically impossible.’ However, Dmitry Furman, director of regulatory and legal relations at third-placed mobile operator Astelit, sounded a more optimistic note, saying: ‘We hope that the tenders for all three licences will be held no later than 30 October,’ while adding that the Decree required complex preparatory measures to implement the conversion process, including work on the development of norms of frequency-distance separation; Furman stated that the operators have ‘already funded this work and signed the contract.’

Although no specific reasons for the delay have been pinpointed, ProIT notes that several changes of key regulatory staff have occurred very recently. In particular, the appointment of a new general director at the Ukrainian State Centre of Radio Frequencies (UCRF), Valentine Reznichenko, was confirmed at a meeting of the NCCIR on 14 August. In an earlier release on the UCRF website, Mr Reznichenko was presented to the NCCIR and UCRF as the new director of the auxiliary frequencies authority on 4 August. At his inauguration, Reznichenko pledged to successfully work through the ‘complex’ and ‘very significant’ problems facing the regulatory team, among the most important being the implementation of the Presidential Decree on 3G licensing (‘On ensuring the conditions for the implementation of modern telecommunications technologies’). Earlier that day, the previous head of the UCRF, Paul Slobodyanyuk, officially stepped down. Furthermore, ProIT reported earlier that on 28 July 2014 the head of the NCCIR, Andrei Sementchenko, was removed from the post under presidential orders, with Alexander Givotovsky instated as the new NCCIR leader. Simultaneously, six other NCCIR members were replaced.