The development of telecommunication infrastructure, in particular providing broadband access to the Internet and high-quality mobile communications throughout the country, is an effective tool for reducing the digital divide in Ukraine. The first step towards this goal is the introduction of third-generation and fourth-generation mobile communication systems (3G and 4G) in the radio frequency spectrum of 790-960 MHz.
So far, numerous regulatory barriers have made it economically unreasonable for operators to build communication networks in the regions. Therefore, there is almost no high-quality mobile communication outside large Ukrainian cities: 16 million subscribers do not have access to 4G at all, and another 26 million subscribers have no 4G Internet available when travelling.
The President of Ukraine signed the Decree “On Some Measures to Improve Access to Mobile Internet” that will allow to remove barriers to the development of new communication technologies and reduce the digital divide between cities and rural areas.
The Decree provides for the approval of measures necessary to introduce mobile communication systems of the third and fourth generations in the radio frequency spectrum of 790-960 MHz. According to it, the Cabinet of Ministers, in co-operation with the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR), should perform the following steps
by August 1, 2019:
1) determine the conditions for the joint RFR use by special and general users in the 790-960 MHz spectrum;
2) take measures to allow the use of the radio frequency resource in the range of 790-862 MHz to introduce 3G and 4G mobile communication technologies.
by October 1, 2019:
3) determine the terms and conditions to make it possible to use the RFR in the range of 880-915 MHz and 925-960 MHz by special users;
4) eliminate the RFR fragmentation in the range of 824-960 MHz for the introduction of 3G and 4G mobile communication;
It is also necessary to ensure the adoption of acts required for the Decree implementation. In particular, introducing technological neutrality requires making amendments to CMU’s resolutions that approve the National Table of Frequency Bands Allocation of Ukraine and the Plan for the Use of the Radio Frequency Resource of Ukraine.
In turn, the NCCIR should ensure the process by issuing and re-issuing licenses for the RFR use in the range of 790-960 MHz on an objective, proportional and transparent basis, providing the use of radio frequencies harmonized with the EU along with competitive conditions in the mobile communication services market.
The use of low-frequency ranges (800-900 MHz) to provide 3G and 4G technology communication will allow operators to reduce investments in deploying new telecom networks, reduce radio frequency costs and provide better quality and coverage for telecommunications services. In such a way, this will allow to provide 98% of citizens with access to modern services, information and knowledge regardless of their place of residence as well as promote economic growth of the regions and improve the quality of life in Ukraine.
As a reminder, earlier, BRDO experts conducted a systematic analysis of the sector regulation and presented it during the Roundtable “Radio Frequency Resource: How to Provide Quality Communication in Ukraine?” as part of the Public Dialogue with market representatives. Based on the results of public consultations, recommendations for the Action Plan on the improvement of the quality communication coverage in the country were developed.