21 Oct 2009 16:11

Medvedev tells ministries to tackle deficit of frequencies for 3G services

MOSCOW. Oct 21 (Interfax) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the country's Communications Ministry and Defense Ministry to tackle the existing shortage of radio frequencies for cell phone services, including 3G networks.

"I have issued an instruction both to [Communications Minister Igor] Shchyogolev and [Defense Minister Anatoly] Serdyukov to take a final decision on the frequency range," Medvedev said at a meeting with Russian businessmen in the Kremlin.

Russia is six to eight years behind other countries as far as the introduction of new cell phone technologies is concerned because a majority of frequencies is available for use only by security services, Alfa Group head Mikhail Fridman said at the meeting.

Alfa Group has stakes in two of Russia's three largest cellular operators - VimpelCom and MegaFon.

"This situation certainly needs to be changed," Medvedev said.

It is necessary to develop domestic technologies for the telecommunications sector, the president added.

Civilian customers in Russia are allowed to use only 2% of the country's radio frequencies, with 27% of frequencies allocated for state needs, Fridman said. Civilian and state customers in the United States can use 30% and 11% of radio frequencies, respectively, and 75% and 8% in Europe, he said.

The Alfa Group head blamed this misbalance on outdated electronic equipment owned by Russian security services that require broadband frequencies.

Telecommunication companies could help fund purchases of new such equipment for Defense Ministry organizations, he added.