The Ministry of Communications and Informatisation of Belarus has refused to renew the 450MHz wireless spectrum licence held by mobile operator BelCel. According to a report from local news agency BelTA, the Ministry is claiming that the company has not complied with the terms of its licence, and specifically has failed to attain a population coverage level of 90% with its CDMA-based networks. BelCel’s current 450MHz licence expires on 23 January 2014.
Part-owned by national fixed line incumbent Beltelecom, BelCel launched commercial operations in May 1993 using the analogue NMT-450 standard, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes. The arrival of competition from GSM operators in 1999 sounded the death knell for its outmoded network, and in August 2002 the government granted BelCel permission to begin rolling out a CDMA platform in the 450MHz band; the following July it launched a commercial CDMA2000 1x service under the brand name Diallog. Despite the addition of EV-DO-based data connectivity and the recent announcement that it was hoping to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G services using 450MHz frequencies, currently the operator serves less than 1% of the country’s overall mobile market, with subscribers numbering an estimated 85,000 at the end of September 2013.