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Beeline files lawsuit to challenge spectrum redistribution

16 May 2017

Uzbek mobile provider Unitel, which offers services under the preferred ‘Beeline’ branding of its Netherlands-headquartered parent VEON (formerly VimpelCom), has filed a lawsuit in a local court challenging plans by the Ministry of Development of Information Technologies and Communications (CCITT) to redistribute spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands. Reuters cites the operator as saying that the move would cost the operator more than USD50 million and violate an agreement signed last year, which extended the duration of the cellco’s licence by 15 years, to 2031. ‘The withdrawal of 47% of [our] frequency band is an unprecedented and extremely unfriendly move by the regulator,’ CEO Dmitry Shukov said in a statement.

Earlier this week the CCITT announced plans to redistribute spectrum, on the basis that the current allocation is fragmented, preventing the introduction of full 4G LTE services and negatively affecting service quality. Under the plan, each of the nation’s four GSM providers would be given equal spectrum allocations in each of the two bands: 6.2MHz in the 900MHz range (31 blocks of 0.2MHz) and 18.6MHz in the 1800MHz band (93 blocks of 0.2MHz). The programme would see Beeline lose nearly half of its frequencies, with its portfolio shrinking from 48.8MHz (13.6MHz in the 900MHz, 35.2MHz in 1800MHz) to 24.8MHz. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two state-owned cellcos UzMobile and Universal Mobile Systems (UMS) would be the greatest beneficiaries of the plan, gaining an additional 8.6MHz and 9.2MHz, respectively. Telia Company’s Ucell division would benefit from the reshuffle, scooping up an extra 7.0MHz.

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