Ukraine’s three leading mobile operators Kyivstar, Vodafone Ukraine and Lifecell all launched commercial 1800MHz LTE networks on 1 July to expand, strengthen and upgrade their existing LTE-2600 platforms and herald the start of mass market 4G services in the country. Lifecell, part of the Turkcell group, claimed the widest LTE-1800 coverage at launch, with its live LTE-A network present in 18 out of 25 Ukrainian regions (oblasts) and a total of 232 settlements, according to Liga.net, whilst Vodafone Ukraine – owned by Russia’s MTS – initially switched on its 4G 1800MHz signal in around 50 settlements across ten regions. The market’s largest operator by subscribers, Kyivstar – part of the VEON group – also debuted 1800MHz LTE services on the same day in Kyiv and parts of the Kyiv region, whilst scheduling commercial expansion to southern city Odessa by today (3 July) and another major city, Lviv in western Ukraine, on 5 July, followed by other regional centres.
TeleGeography notes that Kyivstar won the largest block of 1800MHz technology-neutral spectrum at auction in March this year (2×35MHz compared to 2×25MHz for Vodafone and 2×15MHz for Lifecell). Before being permitted to commercialise 1800MHz LTE services on 1 July, in the interim all three cellcos launched 2600MHz 4G in late March/early April.