Turkcell’s Astelit and Russia’s MTS and VimpelCom have been awarded 3G mobile licences in Ukraine, the companies have announced.
VimpelCom, whose Kyivstar business already has a 40 per cent market share in Ukraine, making it the country’s biggest operator, has paid UAH 2.7 billion ($83 million) for the licence, as has MTS, while Turkcell paid UAH 3.35 billion.
In September it was reported that, as the Ukrainian conflict continued to rage, the government was looking to reduce Russian companies’ 80 per cent dominance in its mobile market.
A minister had said that the government would like to block Russian companies including MTS from getting their hands on 3G frequencies and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk had threatened to sell one of the licences to an operator from the EU for just UAH1 ($0.077).
However, analysts had predicted that Russian companies would be strong contenders in mobile auctions because of their financial position.
Astelit, which is 55 per cent owned by Turkcell and had 14 million mobile connections in the country at the end of 2014 (GSMA Intelligence figures), is aiming to launch 3G services in Ukraine six months after the acquisition of the licence.
It hopes to cover regional centres within 18 months as required by the Ukrainian regulator, the company said in a statement.
Andrei Dubovskov, President and CEO at MTS, said that the licence tender “was organised in a very professional manner, while each stage was conducted with the highest level of transparency.”
Back in November, Dubovskov had warned that “the situation in Ukraine remains highly volatile and creates uncertainty at the group level”.
“It is hard to forecast what the operational trends in Ukraine would be going forward,” he had added.