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Special forces, the police and the army will have their own mobile network

Special forces, the police and the army will have their own mobile network
Photo: Eugeny Musienko

A ghost of a military mobile operator is walking around the offices of government officials. At its latest meeting the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCSRCI) approved the preliminary plan of the State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection (SSSCIP) for the creation of a national network of mobile communication for state bodies.

“Mobile communication does not mean “cellular”; this is about the network of dispatcher radio communications primarily for law enforcement structures – the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the SBU, the National Guard, the Border Service and the State Emergencies Service,” informed advisor of the Head of the SSSCIP Vitaliy Kuksa.

Several members of the regulator informed Capital that the commission will be responsible for provision of radio frequencies for the new operator. However, this is only if the first three clauses of the plan are fulfilled. In particular, this should be preceded by a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers. “The objective of the plan is to develop proposals for selection of technological solutions, prepare technical tasks for the development of the network project, draw up cost estimates and assess the possibility of organizing the production of means of communication in Ukraine,” informed Kuksa.

As a reminder, in early September Capital wrote about the directive of the government issued in August on drafting of the project for the creation of a national mobile network for the government needs. However, at the time there was no talk providing the new operator with frequencies.

Contender for the dividend

In truth, one of the members of the regulator claims that the commission may be obligated to provide frequencies for the new operator by the end of April. “We already appealed to the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council with a proposal to allocate a part of television frequencies for communication needs. This is the so-called “digital dividend” (part of the frequencies that will be freed up after analog TV is turned off,” informed a member of the NCSRCI.

These are frequencies within the range of 800 MHz. In European countries, after the transition to digital television, they were put up on tender for the development of 4G communications. “Digital dividend and the project of a network of mobile communications for state bodies are unrelated,” said Kuksa. Member of the NTRBC Hryhoriy Shverk says that in 2015 analog television will be turned off in every oblast in turns. The agency will be able to transfer the free frequencies around the country only by the end of 2016, when the country fully switches to digital television.

Partner from China

The creation of a new mobile operator is a very expensive project. The national network will cost hundreds millions of dollars. One of the members of NCSRCI says the attraction of a private partner to the project is currently being discussed. As a reminder, in the summer the Cabinet held a meeting with Chinese billionaire Wang Jing (Forbes estimates his fortune at US $8 bn), who earlier said that he was interested in investing US $600 mn into the Ukrainian telecom sector. Based on the information of Capital the possible creation of a joint venture in which the state would own 20% and the rest would be owned by the Chinese was discussed.

Representatives of the NCSRCI said that Jing made another visit to Ukraine several months ago and even met with the regulator.

Capital recently wrote that Xinwei (Jing’s telecom holding) is currently holding talks on the acquisition of the Ukrainian operator Datagroup, which has a branched-out landline network all throughout the country. The operator is not involved in mobile communications. If the talks between the Chinese, Datagroup and the government are successful, they will in any case need a license for mobile communications in order to provide the full range of services.

Noteworthy, former general director of Datagroup Oleksandr Danchenko was elected to the parliament this autumn and was recently appointed Chair of the VR Committee for Informatization and Information Technology. Earlier he told Capital that after he was elected a people’s deputy he no longer has relations with Datagroup. “Over the past week I’ve heard a lot about the state mobile operator,” Danchenko said yesterday. He added that he did not have time to look into the concept in detail yet. Kuksa, in his turn, assures that provision of commercial services in the new state-owned network is not in the plans.

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