Russia intends to launch the auction of 1800MHz spectrum suitable for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile services no later than Q1 2015, ComNews reports. At a meeting yesterday, the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC) requested that the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Communications (Roskomnadzor) ensure that the sale of 1710MHz-1785MHz and 1805MHz-1880MHz spectrum for LTE is ready to take place in early 2015. Additionally, the SRFC is planning to sell off 890MHz-915MHz and 935MHz-960MHz spectrum blocks for the development of 3G services in the country.
Bidding for LTE licences will take place in ten Russian regions where Roskomnadzora and the Ministry of Communications have identified there are free resources, specifically: the Republic of Dagestan, North Ossetia, Buryatia and the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Stavropol Krai and the Perm region (former territory of the Perm region and the former Komi-Perm Autonomous District), Orenburg and the Amur region. As previously announced by the SRFC, the free resources in question are less than 10MHz in each region and as such, bidding will be limited to those operators which currently hold spectrum in the 1800MHz band – to bolster their existing capability. Russia’s Minister of Communications and Mass Communications, Nikolai Nikiforov, said the decision marks an important milestone in the development of the country’s mobile market, and welcomed what he terms the ‘improved relations between market regulators and network operators’.
According to the SRFC’s decision, successful 4G bidders will receive rights to use the 1800MHz frequencies for a period of ten years. However, the awards will come with a number of conditions, including the requirement that cellcos provide LTE access in all settlements with a population of more than 2,000 people.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in December 2013 the SRFC formally approved the use of 1710MHz-1785MHz and 1805MHz-1880MHz spectrum for 4G LTE use, and the 890MHz-915MHz and 935MHz-960MHz band for 3G, bringing to an end a lengthy period of speculation over the 1800MHz frequency band. At the time the watchdog said that all holders of spectrum below the 2200MHz threshold would be required to provide services to Russian settlements with more than 1,000 residents, while carriers in possession of 2200MHz-3000MHz frequencies would be obliged to cover areas that are home to more than 10,000 citizens.