President Vladimir Putin has effectively sided with broadcasters over mobile operators by signing a decree which prevents the redistribution of the so-called ‘second digital dividend’ 694MHz-790MHz (700MHz) frequency band for 4G mobile services unless broadcasters give specific permission for the spectrum refarming. As reported by Russian newspaper Kommersant in an article republished by Telecom Daily, the decree which came into effect on 11 August 2014 puts an end to a dispute between cellcos and TV companies over the legal usage rights of 700MHz frequencies which are theoretically becoming available for refarming via the final transition from analogue to digital broadcasting which should be completed in 2019. However, according to sources cited in the report, around 20% of frequency assignments for digital TV channels packages (multiplexes) in Russia are within the 694MHz-790MHz range. The latest decree also mandated the requirement to determine the procedure for cellcos to obtain consent from broadcasters for the reallocation of frequencies. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in July 2012 Russia awarded 4G LTE frequencies in the 800MHz digital dividend (790MHz-862MHz) band to MTS, Vimpelcom, MegaFon and Rostelecom.
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