Since their LTE-900 operating licences became valid at the start of July, Ukrainian cellcos Kyivstar and Vodafone have deployed 900MHz 4G network services to thousands of settlements – mainly remote, small villages – across six regions: Volyn, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne and Ternopil. Vodafone reported that it has already rolled out LTE-900 to over 1,000 villages, while Kyivstar said it reached 741 additional settlements with a population of 380,000 with the new technology.
Mobile market leader Kyivstar plans to invest up to UAH5 billion (USD179 million) to expand 4G across rural areas nationwide, utilising the 900MHz band’s larger base station coverage radius compared to its existing 1800MHz/2600MHz LTE network to reach ‘even the most remote settlements and roads’. The cellco will also continue expanding 1800MHz/2600MHz 4G coverage; by July 2020 Kyivstar operated 12,000 LTE base stations compared to 1,600 two years earlier, reaching 80% of the population. For its part, Vodafone, which currently covers over 71% of the population with 4G, plans to launch LTE-900 in all 25 regions of the country by end-2020. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Kyivstar and Vodafone signed a Memorandum of Intent on sharing passive and active infrastructure of their mobile networks with the aim of accelerating rural 4G reach.
Kyivstar, Vodafone and third-placed mobile player Lifecell are all deploying LTE-900 following the redistribution of the GSM 900MHz spectrum band. In June the trio began exchanging 900MHz frequencies in eight regions in western Ukraine, targeting national completion of the spectrum swap-over project by the end of 2020. Under the terms of their new 900MHz licences, operators are obliged to cover 90% of the population with 4G including all settlements with 2,000-plus residents in two years.