Ministry indicates ‘transitional period’ plans for migrating 3.5GHz regional fixed broadband users

9 Mar 2021

Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications & Mass Media issued a statement confirming that government agencies have not yet agreed on the extension of existing fixed-wireless broadband frequency licences used in a number of regions to provide residential internet services, noting that ‘discussions on possible conditions for the renewal of these permits are ongoing.’ The spectrum in question is in the 3.5GHz band, held on a regional basis by operators including Rostelecom’s subsidiary FreshTel, MegaFon (via Neosprint/Synterra), ER-Telecom (via Prestige Internet) and TransTeleCom (TTK). The State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCRF) has hinted it may extend 3.5GHz fixed-wireless permits beyond this month on a temporary basis only, whilst the spectrum is expected to be refarmed for 5G mobile usage at a later date.

The Ministry said that ‘less than 100,000 subscribers use these frequencies on a regular basis’, while noting that it is working with telecoms operators on ‘measures to prevent the disconnection of these subscribers by organising their connection in other ways’. The statement added that ‘subscribers will be disconnected only if there is an alternative way of their access to the internet on terms no worse than those previously provided.’ Maksut Shadayev, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, said: ‘We will definitely agree on a transitional period and will not allow citizens to be left without internet access even for the smallest time.’