Ukrtelecom associate keeps 4G-suitable spectrum as court overrules regulator

31 Mar 2016

The District Administrative Court of Kyiv has ordered Ukraine’s telecoms watchdog, the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR or NKRZI) to renew 4G LTE-suitable wireless spectrum licences held by MMDS Ukraine, an associated company of nationwide incumbent telco Ukrtelecom’s parent SCM Group, the conglomerate owned by the country’s richest man Rinat Akhmetov. Local publication BizLiga learned that the Kyiv court told the regulator to extend the validity of three 2500MHz-2700MHz licences for at least another ten years, overruling the NCCIR’s refusal in January to extend the concessions (expiring April-May 2016) on the grounds of spectrum under-utilisation. It was not immediately clear whether the Kyiv judgment would set a nationwide precedent, with the watchdog having previously indicated its opposition to renewing MMDS Ukraine’s 2.5GHz licences in at least 21 other regions.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database shows that the Ukrainian telecoms regulatory authorities awarded a nationwide 2.5GHz licence (suitable for WiMAX, but now earmarked for LTE), without tender, in December 2005 for USD150,000 to SCM, which transferred the licence to MMDS Ukraine, a firm 25%-owned by the conglomerate. BizLiga writes that SCM has not disclosed recent network rollout plans for the 4G-suitable spectrum, whilst unnamed market participants told the media outlet that Akhmetov’s group had ‘repeatedly’ tried to sell the asset, but it had not fetched a price high enough to meet its expectations.

Ukraine, MMDS-Ukraine, Ukrtelecom (incl. TriMob)