PEOPLEnet shuts down mobile services in 18 out of 25 regions

17 Aug 2015

CDMA wireless broadband provider Telesystems (PEOPLEnet) has announced that it is drastically reducing its national mobile network coverage. According to its website’s newly revised coverage map and location table, from 1 September 2015 PEOPLEnet will offer mobile CDMA coverage in only seven Ukrainian regions (oblasts) – Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk (including the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic), Zaporozhye, Poltava and Kherson – compared to the previous complete (25 region) oblast presence. Main cities remaining covered include Kiev, Kharkiv (in the north-east), Dnipropetrovsk (south-central), Donetsk (east), Kherson (south), Melitopol (south), Berdiansk (south-east), Mariupol (south-east), Zaporozhye (south-east), Krivoy Rog (south-central), Poltava (north-central) and Kremenchuk (central). No mobile coverage whatsoever in the western part of Ukraine will be offered, while other major cities such as Odessa in the south have dropped off the coverage footprint.

The announcement on PEOPLEnet’s website claims that its other, non-mobile telecoms services, including fixed telephony and fixed broadband access provision such as hybrid connections to buildings based on ePMP technology or fixed radio broadband access, remain technically possible in all regions of Ukraine. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Telesystems (PEOPLEnet) offers fixed services in certain cities via subsidiary CST-Invest (NewTone), including partnerships with other city operators Infocom and UKOM, as well as its own-branded Telesystems division in Kiev.

PEOPLEnet, which is controlled by affiliates of the Privat Group, explained the widespread CDMA mobile shutdowns by stating that the regions in question, particularly in western Ukraine, did not generate enough revenue to justify the cost of network maintenance. As reported by Ukrainian news site IT Expert, PEOPLEnet’s head Michael Paikin claims that the company still intends to renew its nationwide basic telecoms operating licences, which currently include a combined 155MHz of CDMA frequencies (reduced in recent years from a previous total of 202.5MHz). The concessions expire by the end of 2015, and operators are required by law to apply for licence renewal four months before expiry.

Paikin also announced that the CDMA firm has successfully appealed against a bankruptcy procedure which was filed in late-May by a creditor demanding the repayment of debt. At the same time as the bankruptcy lawsuit was issued, CommsUpdate reported that PEOPLEnet had suspended investment plans for migrating from CDMA to LTE technology.