On 5 February 2014 Ukraine’s National Council for Television & Radio Broadcasting granted IPTV licences to OTT streaming video service provider Digital Screens (trading as Oll.tv), which plans to expand and upgrade its services via its partnership with Ukrtelecom to market IPTV packages to the telco’s 1.65 million broadband subscribers. Ukrtelecom and Oll.tv (Digital Screens) are both owned by Ukrainian conglomerate SCM (with Oll.tv forming part of SCM’s ‘Media Group Ukraine’ division). Oll.tv received IPTV licences for cities in seven regions of Ukraine representing a population of over ten million, Capital.ua reports, with commercial launch of IPTV services scheduled for September-October 2014 over Ukrtelecom’s network, although a representative of Oll.tv was cited by the newspaper as saying that the company is also holding talks with other Ukrainian ISPs for additional IPTV tie-ups (which TeleGeography notes could include Ukrtelecom’s sister telco in the SCM group, Vega). Under the IPTV licence terms Oll.tv will provide access to more than 55 channels, including channels under Ukraine’s ‘universal programme service’. Previously, in December 2013 Ukrtelecom launched a partnership with Oll.tv offering OTT streaming video channels (on the telco’s ‘Ogo.oll.tv’ web portal) accessible via computers, tablets, smart TVs or TVs with a specialised set-top box, while in July that year the partnership kicked off with Ukrtelecom offering access to films, TV series and live broadcasts initially under the ‘OGO! Cinema’ banner – via a web portal which now redirects to the ogo.oll.tv portal. Ukrtelecom is currently implementing a project to increase its broadband connection speeds in cities around the country to support advanced services such as IPTV. Before the partnership with Ukrtelecom, Oll.tv reportedly had a monthly web viewing audience of more than 900,000 unique users.
Ukrtelecom appeared to lose its last hope of gaining its own direct IPTV licence on 4 November 2013, when the National Council for Television & Radio Broadcasting issued a decision that network operators who have provided IPTV in ‘test mode’ (unlicensed ‘pre-commercial’ services usually bundled with broadband connections) will remain excluded from obtaining a licence for commercial IPTV broadcasting, as the ‘test mode’ operations were previously assessed as ‘illegal activities’ under an earlier regulatory decision. Companies which have offered such pre-commercial IPTV services in certain locations whilst failing to win IPTV licences include Ukrtelecom and its largest rival by users in the fixed broadband segment, Kyivstar – a stalemate which has prevailed for several years, and now appears to have been made permanent by the broadcast regulator’s latest decision. Like Ukrtelecom, Kyivstar has recently resorted to giving subscribers discounted or enhanced access to OTT streaming content via third-party tie-ups, in its case via the portal megogo.net.