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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ministry Overrules Ban on 2 Standards

Two cellular standards to be banned by the end of the decade may get a second lease on life.

The Anti-Monopoly Ministry ruled this week that the Communications Ministry acted illegally by ordering the termination of the CDMA-800 and DAMPS standards.

The conflict began in April when a Communications Ministry commission issued an order demanding that operators stop using these standards by 2010 so that the frequencies could be used for digital television.

The operators appealed to the Anti-Monopoly Ministry, saying this ruling broke laws on competition, and the ministry ruled in their favor.

"The [Communications] Ministry's position is insufficiently well-argued," said Deputy Anti-Monopoly Minister Anatoly Golomolzin. The Communications Ministry could not be reached for comment Monday.

The Communications Ministry will be sent an instruction demanding that the violation be resolved, most likely resulting in a revocation of the order, Golomolzin said.

"The Anti-Monopoly Ministry analyzed the information on the development of CDMA networks throughout the world and the state of play in Russia and decided that there was no reason to remove CDMA from the airwaves," said Valentin Kosykh, executive director of the CDMA Association.

The Anti-Monopoly Ministry's decision, however, is no longer of any interest to all DAMPS operators, since some have already moved to the GSM-1800 standard.

This shift was stipulated in a special memorandum that the Communications Ministry signed with Association-800, a grouping of AMPS and DAMPS operators.

Not all AMPS and DAMPS operators in the association have received licenses, however. Meanwhile, the CDMA Association and the Communications Ministry have failed to reach an agreement for transferring operators to another standard.

"If the decision of the State Commission on Radio Frequencies that limited the development and life of CDMA networks by 2010 is canceled, we hope it will be possible to develop these networks," Kosykh said. "So far, we have what we have."

There are 17 CDMA-800 operators in 22 regions across the country, with a total of 230,000 subscribers, Kosykh said.

This makes up a 2.26 percent share of the 10.18 million cellular subscribers at the end of March, according to the J'son & Partners consulting firm.

The Anti-Monopoly Ministry decision does not resolve all of the CDMA operators' problems.

The Communications Ministry does not recognize CDMA-800 as a cellular telephone standard; instead, the standard is to be used to provide telephone services where it is impractical to lay cables.

"The Anti-Monopoly Ministry's decision doesn't bring CDMA companies any closer to obtaining 'mobile' status," said Alexei Yakovitsky, and analyst at the United Financial Group, adding that CDMA operators are niche players and cannot compete with GSM operators.

(Vedomosti, MT)