Ukraine’s former fixed line monopoly Ukrtelecom has announced that it is planning to launch commercial 3G mobile services in several cities next month. State-run Ukrtelecom paid USD30 million for the country’s only combined GSM/UMTS licence in December 2005, but it was not until October 2006 that it signed a three-year contract for the supply of W-CDMA core and radio network equipment with Finnish technology provider Nokia. The telco’s 3G launch plans have been slowed by the public sector tender procedures it must observe for all purchases of equipment, labour and other services. The government has repeatedly refused calls for a new 3G licence auction from GSM operators Kyivstar, MTC (formerly UMC) and Astelit (life:)), on the grounds of a lack of available frequencies, but in August 2006 the authorities cleared funding for the process of freeing up radio spectrum in the 2100MHz band currently allocated for military use. The state is thought to be unwilling to issue new W-CDMA concessions until it has completed a partial privatisation of Ukrtelecom, but its sale attempts have run into problems this year, largely due to a lack of bidder interest. The government has now pushed back the sale of a 37.86% stake in the national PTO to next year, according to Finance Minister Mykola Azarov.
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