MOSCOW, March 1 A Russian appeals court has
backed a regional TV company's claim to have been wrongly
stripped of broadcasting rights, in a ruling that could impact a
number of mobile phone operators the frequencies involved were
The Ninth Arbitration Appeals Court in Moscow ordered the
cancellation of a 2011 decision to allow an operator called
Scartel to use frequencies which had been previously used by TV
operators including EROS, the complainant in the action.
The decision, which Scartel confirmed following a report in
newspaper Vedomosti, could affect Russia's No.2 cellphone
company MegaFon, which has been using Scartel's
network to gain an early entree into fourth-generation services.
But it could also affect rivals MTS and Rostelecom
, which had also been handed the right by Russia's
telecoms regulator to use the spectrum previously used by TV
operators, though also have other frequencies they can use to
offer 4G services.
MTS and state-controlled Rostelecom, as well as rivals
Vimpelcom and MegaFon, were last summer awarded 4G
licences using frequencies mainly in a different range from the
ex-TV frequencies affected by the court ruling.
"We received the frequencies in an absolutely legal and
transparent way at a tender, so this (decision) does not concern
us," said Rostelecom spokeswoman Kira Kiryukhina.
No-one at MTS could immediately be reached for comment. The
company had declined comment, according to Vedomosti.
MegaFon declined comment.
Scartel gave no reason for the court's decision and no-one
at the court could be reached for comment outside regular Moscow
Scartel played down the significance of the decision, saying
similar claims filed by other TV operators in the past had all
been dismissed by Russian courts. "We disagree with the decision
and will file an appeal," said Polina Stepanova, a spokeswoman
Scartel is owned by a company called Garsdale, which is 82
percent owned by Russia's richest man Alisher Usmanov and which
holds 50 percent of the shares in MegaFon.
In contrast with others in the sector, Scartel is an
established 4G player, and MegaFon's partnership with the
operator has been considered a competitive advantage over rivals
in the mobile internet segment.