14 Aug 2023 18:54

Draft of Russian telecom industry strategy assumes ban on use of "golden band" for 5G

KALUGA. Aug 14 (Interfax) - The draft strategy for the development of the Russian telecom industry through 2035 assumes a ban on the use of the "golden band" of radio frequencies (3.4-3.8 GHz) for 5G, while fifth-generation networks will be developed at other frequencies, Maxut Shadayev, head of Russia's Digital Development Ministry told reporters.

The 3.4-3.8 GHz band is the most attractive for 5G networks, but in Russia, it is occupied by other services, including the military. The issue of transmitting on these frequencies for 5G networks has been discussed for several years, but could not be resolved.

"Explicitly, the draft strategy will include a ban on the use of the golden band," the minister said on Friday on the sidelines of the Digital Evolution forum.

He stressed that this does not mean abandoning the development of 5G in Russia. "We will develop 5G. There are other available bands for 5G, for example, 4400-4990 MHz," the minister said.

The issue of transferring the so-called "digital dividend" (700 MHz) to cellular operators for 5G - frequencies that were previously used for analog TV also remains unresolved. After the transition of terrestrial TV from analogue to digital, broadcasters have yet to give up these frequencies.

The Ministry of Digital Development is discussing how to resolve this issue, Shadayev said.

According to a presidential decree, the redistribution of these frequencies can be carried out only in agreement with the broadcasters, he said.

As such, the broadcasters declare that they are ready to transfer these frequencies to operators, but on a paid basis, and for a substantial amount, the minister said.

"They believe that the operator must pay. They made an assessment, received some estimated amount, and the number was quite high; the operators are not ready to pay that much for it," the minister said.

Now the Ministry of Digital Development is discussing how to remove this restriction, "and whether it is possible to remove it in principle," he said.

In June, the Kommersant wrote, citing sources, that the Ministry of Digital Development proposed to develop 5G networks on the basis of a single radio frequency operator with state participation, which would receive frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz golden band free of charge in "compatibility mode with special services." This means that the military would be able to turn off the radiation of radio-electronic means of communication (RES), when and where they deem it necessary. Now they do not have direct access to the operators' network management systems, and the restriction of services occurs via the Ministry of Digital Development, the newspaper wrote.

The Ministry was instructed to work out the issue of a single operator, Shadayev said on Friday.