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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Cellular Standards Resume Old Rivalry

After uniting against a Communications Ministry order that threatened their existence, two cellular groups have once again broken into factions based on frequency.

The schism reopened earlier this month when the Anti-Monopoly Ministry revoked a Communications Ministry order forbidding cellular companies from operating on the CDMA and AMPS/DAMPS frequencies.

While CDMA operators cheered the move, AMPS/DAMPS operators complained since they had already cut deals with the Communications Ministry to switch to a recommended standard, GSM-1800.

The Communications Ministry's frequency committee two years ago ordered that operators leave the AMPS/DAMPS and CDMA standards by 2010, hoping to use the 800 frequency to develop a digital television network. Association-800, an industry grouping of DAMPS and AMPS operators, issued a complaint in May 2000 to the Anti-Monopoly Ministry, saying the Communications Ministry's order was illegal.

"After the Communication Ministry's decision in 2000, investment into AMPS networks shrunk, and competitors launched PR campaigns to attract subscribers from the seemingly doomed mobile standard," said Yury Dombrovsky, president of Association-800.

CDMA operators joined the AMPS/DAMPS complaint, ending years of rivalry between the two sides.

The DAMPS side earlier had accused the CDMA side of dumping and providing cellular services with only a fixed-line license -- and even requested the Communications Ministry do something to fix the situation.

AMPS/DAMPS operators, meanwhile, decided to come to an agreement with the Communications Ministry to change to GSM-1800, and signed an agreement. The CDMA operators made no concessions and defended their right to their frequency.

"The association came to a compromise [with the Communications Ministry]. And then, a year later, the Anti-Monopoly Ministry made the resolution, which could greatly change investment priorities and frequency policy," Dombrovsky said.

Of the 42 companies that are members of the Association-800, only four have not yet received GSM-1800 licenses, and members of the association have begun switching to the new standard. AMPS/DAMPS operators are now at a disadvantage to CDMA operators, which have not wasted resources on new licenses and fighting over frequency spectrums.

CDMA Association head Sergei Piskov said the only thing operators on his frequency want from the ministry is that it act consistently with its decision.

The Anti-Monopoly Ministry, meanwhile, does not believe it gave CDMA operators an unfair advantage. Association-800 members will continue their plans to switch to GSM-800, while AMPS/DAMPS operators that are not members and did not ask the ministry for new licenses will be able to continue working in their standard, Deputy Anti-Monopoly Minister Anatoly Golomolzin said.