[rethink] In the quest for new spectrum, especially in the low bands that support cost effective rural coverage, 450MHz has remained surprisingly neglected. The former analog mobile frequencies have been used in some countries, mainly in parts of Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe, for rural 3G, but have remained non-mainstream. Now six carriers want to make eastern Europe a hotbed of 450MHz activity, proposing a harmonized regional deployment of LTE that could allow them to leapfrog other cellcos and countries, in terms of rapid and affordable 4G roll-out.
The initiative is spearheaded by six cellcos which already operate 450MHz networks using the only technology commercialized for the band, CDMA450 (there are UMTS profiles but they have not been put into mainstream equipment). They hope that they will be able to refarm their CDMA spectrum for an early leap into LTE, especially where their home regulators are not planning auctions in other bands, such as digital dividend, for some years. They have applied to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and their individual national regulators for permission to use the 450MHz band for LTE.
The eastern European operators are SkyLink of Russia, Triatel of Latvia, Diallog of Belarus, Ufon of Czech Republic and Telemobil of Romania and they are joined by G-Mobile of Mongolia. Also submitting opinions are Russian heavyweights VimpelCom and MegaFon, both of which would be likely to oppose rivals gaining any LTE spectrum advantage, but could look to form partnerships for rural coverage. Both giants operate in Russia and several neighboring countries in eastern Europe and central Asia.
If successful, the sextet would likely be joined by other operators in the region and this could create a sufficiently large bloc of harmonized deployment to draw equipment vendors to design affordable kit and devices for the band.
According to Tina Radford, chair of the International 450 Association (IA450), migration to LTE will be the best option for CDMA450 carriers, as with CDMA carriers in other frequencies.
Six operators aim for LTE bloc in 450MHz