28 Mar 2022 17:17

Digital Ministry puts in place moratorium on coverage of federal highways, small settlements with LTE networks in 2022

MOSCOW. March 28 (Interfax) - In a measure aimed at supporting telecoms operators, Russia's Digital Ministry has released operators from the obligation to provide LTE coverage in 2022 for federal highways and small settlements with populations of over 1,000 people, the ministry said in a statement.

"Within the framework of an anti-crisis program to support telecom operators through the end of 2022, The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media is introducing a moratorium on obligations for LTE network coverage of federal highways and settlements with a population over 1,000 people," the statement reads, specifying that the decision was made at a meeting of the State Commission for Radio Frequencies (SCRF).

In August 2021, when the SCRF renewed LTE frequencies for operators (their term expired in September), the commission imposed a number of obligations on operators. As such, operators committed themselves to providing LTE network coverage to all settlements with populations over 1,000 people in 2024, as well as to coverage of more than 80% of federal highways with their networks at their own expense by the same period. It was also decided that operators who build networks in settlements with 500-1000 inhabitants will have their free for use of the radio-frequency spectrum reduced by the amount of investments they have made in this project.

Due to these measures, the number of high-speed mobile Internet users in Russia will increase from 87 million to more than 100 million by 2024, Digital Minister Maksut Shadayev said.

In mid-March, the presidium of the government commission on improving the sustainability of the Russian economy approved a list of measures to support the telecom industry amid sanctions. One of the measures was a one-year moratorium on coverage of federal highways and small settlements with LTE networks.

Other measures included: suspension of the requirement to annually increase the volume of traffic storage under the "Yarovaya Package" by 15% for 1 year and suspension of the obligation of telecom operators to store video traffic; introduction of a mechanism of gradual indexation of telecom operators' rates in accordance with the current inflation rate; ensuring the possibility for telecom operators to share network infrastructure within the framework of inter-network technical roaming.