Ukraine’s National Commission on Communications Regulation (NCCR) has extended the term of cellco Astelit’s 800MHz frequency concession until 2013. Astelit has ceased using the frequency after migrating nearly all users of D-AMPS/TDMA services – first launched in 1996 under the DCC brand – to its GSM/GPRS/EDGE 900MHz/1800MHz network. The last available figures showed that DCC’s subscriber base stood at just 42,700 at the end of 2005, down from 85,000 a year earlier. Astelit had four million active GSM users at the end of June 2007, following its relaunch in 2005 under the life:) banner. The company’s 800MHz licence cover Kiev, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Odessa, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and the Crimean region, and it is now looking at ways to utilise the spectrum, including 3G wireless broadband internet services. According to industry sources quoted by Kommersant Ukraine, Astelit should develop 3.2Mbps mobile internet access services over an 800MHz network. Earlier this month, rival GSM operator MTS Ukraine (formerly UMC) launched commercial CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A wireless internet and data services in Kiev and surrounding areas over a newly built 450MHz network. Cellcos in Ukraine have been forced to explore alternative routes to launching 3G services since being denied UMTS licences; incumbent fixed line operator Ukrtelecom is the country’s only holder of a W-CDMA concession.
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