Ukraine’s largest mobile operator by subscribers Kyivstar has expanded its 900MHz 4G LTE network services to 90 small settlements in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions (oblasts), giving it an LTE-900 presence in all 25 Ukrainian regions, just four months after launching the service via refarmed GSM frequencies in western zones in July. Rival Vodafone Ukraine has also announced its commercial LTE-900 expansion to Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts – in 157 small towns/villages in the two regions – and declared that it too will serve all 25 regions with 4G 900MHz technology by the end of December. The LTE-900 rollouts are heavily focused on reaching rural areas and smaller towns which were problematic and expensive to cover with the cellcos’ existing 1800MHz and 2600MHz 4G spectrum, and the deployment programme is partly supported by a recent infrastructure sharing pact between Kyivstar (part of the VEON group), Vodafone Ukraine (owned by Azerbaijan’s Bakcell) and Lifecell (a Turkcell subsidiary).
Kyivstar’s total LTE (900MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz) network now reaches 85% of Ukraine’s population. Vodafone Ukraine has now covered more than 4,600 settlements via LTE-900 alone (with 800 active LTE-900 base stations to date) while its total multi-band LTE footprint reaches over 80%. Both operators, alongside Lifecell, are targeting at least 90% LTE coverage by end-June 2022 in line with licensing conditions.