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Lifecell joins Kyivstar, Vodafone in 4G sharing pact; Intertelecom 4G ambitions stalled

7 Aug 2020

Ukraine’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers Lifecell yesterday announced on its website that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with rivals Kyivstar and Vodafone Ukraine on the shared usage of passive and active mobile network infrastructure including base stations, communication channels and other equipment to accelerate the deployment of 4G LTE networks in rural areas and on main roads.

Kyivstar, Vodafone and Lifecell are all in the process of deploying 900MHz LTE services to expand their existing LTE-1800/2600 networks in rural areas, after their LTE-900 licences became valid at the start of July. Later that month Kyivstar and Vodafone signed an initial bilateral agreement on 4G rural network sharing, with the expectation of practical implementation of the pact in November-December 2020 following approval of the project by government agencies, CommsUpdate reported.

Smaller, CDMA-based cellco Intertelecom, meanwhile, has issued a statement to its subscribers informing them it is putting its 4G LTE deployment plans on hold and scaling back existing network coverage in a number of regions, due to lack of funding. A release on its website notes that Intertelecom has been seeking investment to enable national LTE deployment, but ‘the protracted situation with quarantine restrictions and the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic’ alongside ‘general economic instability’ prevented it from securing a financing agreement to pay the cost of an LTE licence, forcing it to ‘revise its development strategy’. Consequently, Intertelecom is abandoning part of its existing CDMA spectrum and ‘optimising’ its radio and transport network in certain regions to concentrate on development in areas with a large concentration of subscribers. The company listed the following nine regions where it is reducing service coverage: Volyn, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Ternopil, Rivne, Chernivtsi, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Intertelecom’s LTE licence was cancelled by an April 2020 decision of the National Commission for State Regulation of Communications & Informatization (NCCIR) for non-payment of fees, although the ruling remains suspended pending a final court judgement.