Ministry of Communications insists on a single 5G operator

    Despite criticism from experts and mobile operators, the Ministry of Communications is insisting on a single infrastructure operator, citing a lack of frequencies, RBC writes .

    For several years, Rostelecom has been advocating the creation of a single infrastructure operator, which would like to fulfill the role of such an operator. The joint venture of Rostelecom and MegaFon - Digital for Business, which began operating in February 2019, also claims to play this role.

    At the end of December, Oleg Ivanov, deputy head of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, said that two frequency bands would be allocated for 5G testing: 4.8–4.99 GHz and 27.1–27.5 GHz.

    The initial project involved the allocation of frequencies for 5G in three bands:

    • 3400-4200 MHz;
    • 4400-4900 MHz;
    • 25.25-29.5 GHz.

    But GKRCh significantly reduced the list: “The draft decision had many frequency bands. Unfortunately, there are only two left, because for the rest it’s necessary to carry out the conversion, because they are all busy, ”Ivanov explained.

    In two selected frequency ranges, not everyone will be able to work. The range 4.8–4.99 GHz, as well as the lion’s part of the new range, is allocated to the infrastructure operator, if it is created by telecom operators, the official specified. Only a narrow frequency band of 27.1-27.5 GHz will enter the auction.

    In recent months, the proposal of the Ministry of Communications was criticized by large telecom operators and even the Federal Antimonopoly Service, but the department insists on it. This conclusion can be drawn from the concept, which the ministry recently sent for approval to the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Industry and Trade, FSB and FSO (RBC has a copy). The listed departments must provide their feedback on the concept before March 15.

    If the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media succeeds in carrying out such a variant of the concept, then Rostelecom may claim a large order. According to the agency’s document, the cost of covering Moscow with 5G networks as a single operator is estimated at 16 billion rubles, and cities with a million-plus population - at 56 billion rubles.

    Representative of the Ministry of Communications Yevgeny Novikov believes that a single infrastructure operator is the only possible solution to the development of the network in the face of a shortage of frequencies: “This will be a separate legal entity. But we suggest that the operators agree on what it will be, ”he said.

    MTS representative Aleksey Merkutov disputes the thesis of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media: he says that the creation of a single operator does not solve the frequency deficit problem, but “can lead to monopolization and market stagnation.” VimpelCom representative Anna Aybasheva noted that if you do not release more than 600 MHz of the spectrum in the bands below 5 GHz, networks will not be able to pass the increasing traffic of subscribers.

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