Federal bailiff bars sale of Antares’ 1980MHz-2000MHz spectrum

13 Oct 2014

ComNews reports that the Office of the Federal Bailiff Service (UFSSP) in Moscow has prohibited the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC) from disposing of spectrum frequencies in the 1980MHz-2000MHz band, which are currently held by Antares Telecom – led by the businessman Yevgeny Roitman. The decision, which was signed on Friday 10 October, is the latest development in a long-running dispute over the telco’s plan to use the frequencies to launch a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the country. Previously, the Federal Arbitration Court of the Moscow District found the SRFC guilty of non-compliance with its order to allocate Roitman’s company a licence to use the 1980MHz-2000MHz frequencies for the construction of its LTE network.

In April 2012 the Federal Supervision Agency IT, Communications & Media (Roskomnadzor) granted the telco permission to use its long-held frequencies to deploy a network based on LTE technology. The frequencies are held by the Russian firm and its regional subsidiaries Arktur and Integral, and were originally granted in early-2008, covering the period 18 April 2008 to 18 April 2013. Previously, in March 2012 the watchdog reacted angrily to reports that Antares was set to embark on an LTE trial in Moscow, refuting suggestions that the company was in possession of the necessary permissions.

However, Roitman’s group is frustrated over the impasse and is pursuing legal proceedings against the regulator for its inactivity and heel dragging. In May 2013, the SRFC claimed it had fulfilled a court order by considering Antares Telecom’s application, but still refused to grant the frequencies. Subsequently, Roitman has submitted two requests to the court – losing in both instances – however, it then won on appeal with the courts ordering the SRFC to grant Antares the frequencies. Most recently, in August this year the company filed a petition with the Court of Arbitration to impose a fine on the regulator for not complying with the court decision; the hearing is scheduled for 20 October.