5G is the most modern mobile communication standard in the world with speeds of up to 432.5 Mb/s, which is already available to residents of many countries, but they still cannot implement it in Ukraine.
The introduction of 5G technology in Ukraine has been prepared for a long time, but is still being prepared at the initial stage. A representative of the mobile operator Kyivstar told the DEV.ua portal what conditions must be met in order for Ukrainians to gain access to advanced cellular communication technology.
Note that 5G is currently the most modern and fastest current cellular communication standard in the world. Thus, residents of South Korea already use mobile Internet, the speed of which is 432.5 Mb/s. And in Singapore and Brazil, Internet speeds reach 376, 8 and 346.4 Mb/s, respectively.
Why is there still no 5G in Ukraine?
“Although the state is demonstrating readiness by considering the issue of allocating new frequency ranges for mobile operators, there are certain problems that need to be solved,” the Kyivstar office says.
For the full implementation of 5G, the state must first approve a plan for the use of the radio frequency spectrum and hold an auction for the sale of frequencies. Until now, implementation can only take place within the framework of pilot projects with a limited number of base stations and testing time.
In one of the main frequency bands for 5G technology, the 3500 MHz band, there is currently 400 MHz of free spectrum that can be auctioned to mobile operators. However, the auction can take place only after the approval of the new “Plan for the distribution and use of the radio frequency spectrum in Ukraine” by the decision of the CMU. This plan envisages the allocation of the 3500 MHz and 700 MHz bands for the implementation of 5G. The industry regulator must also prepare the terms of the auction and organize its holding.
The 700 MHz band is of particular importance as it provides uninterrupted 5G coverage and is suitable for the advancement of both 5G and 4G. However, this spectrum is currently occupied by digital and military services, which makes it difficult to organize an auction for these frequencies. In order to release the spectrum, a large amount of work needs to be done, such as conversion, research and identification of available spectrum bands. It is also necessary to determine and approve the terms of the auction and the initial price of the spectrum lots by decision of the CMU.
“It is worth noting that there is a shortage of operator spectrum in Ukraine compared to EU countries, but there are free frequency resources in the 2300 MHz and 2600 MHz bands, which can be effectively used for the development of mobile communications,” the office of the mobile operator clarified.
In addition, they told what steps have already been taken and are being taken to introduce 5G technology in Ukraine. At the initial stage, it is planned to use the NSA architecture, which does not require the replacement of SIM cards and allows you to quickly deploy the network by connecting to an existing 4G network. “Kyivstar” is actively preparing all segments of its network, including transport, backbone networks, RAN networks and additional services. However, the entire process may take several years before 5G is fully implemented in the country.
How 5G is going to be implemented in Ukraine
But despite these circumstances, the Ukrainian regulator is considering the possibility of launching a 5G pilot project in the historical centers of the five largest cities of Ukraine. The terms of the pilot project, including spectrum issuance, equipment licenses and certification, as well as geographic coverage and equipment delivery, are currently being discussed with mobile market operators and 5G equipment suppliers.
The cost of implementing a 5G network includes two main components: obtaining a spectrum license and technological aspects. The price of the license is still unknown, as the initial cost of 5G bands has not been assessed. The approach to licensing in Ukraine remains to be determined: whether it will be relatively expensive with less deployment conditions, or relatively cheap with stricter deployment conditions. The technological part includes mandatory costs for the modernization of the main network elements, as well as costs for the transport network and the RAN network, which depend on the operator’s coverage plans and the number of base stations. 5G requires significant network densification, resulting in increased deployment costs for operators, which are estimated to reach hundreds of millions of dollars in the first three years of implementation.
5G technologies in Ukraine: where it all started
On May 17, 2019, the current President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, signed a decree on the introduction of 5G mobile communications in Ukraine. The document also contained a schedule according to which fifth-generation mobile communications were to be launched in the country in 2020.
“The fifth generation. It is not yet in Europe, but we are moving forward,” the leader of Ukraine noted at the time.
Already at the beginning of August 2020, the first rally against 5G communication was held in Kyiv . Dozens of people came to the rally on Khreshchatyk under the walls of the National Commission, which carries out state regulation in the field of communications. In particular, the activists were outraged by the fact that the issue of increasing electromagnetic radiation is considered by the Commission without a broad discussion with society. It should be noted that in 2020, despite the existing implementation program, the fifth generation connection did not appear in Ukraine.
In February 2021, the head of the Ministry of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, assured in an interview with Focus that his department had already launched research work on 5G and started preparatory activities for the distribution of the 700th band.
“But we do not believe that 5G needs to be built urgently. We are currently “fixing” 4G, running with buckets and rags, cleaning towers, and developing 5G slowly. In general, we think globally, act locally,” the official said at the time.
In November of the same year, Mykhailo Fedorov made a second statement about fifth generation communication and said that the first 5G towers in Ukraine will appear at the end of 2021.
“As early as next year, we plan to deploy experimental zones so that 5G can be tested with different operators. These will be physical territories,” the head of the relevant ministry said then.
It should be noted that the fifth generation communication was not implemented in 2021 either. On August 4, the Cabinet of Ministers postponed the implementation of the 5G network in Ukraine from October 2021 to February 2022. The Ministry of Digital Affairs asked to postpone the issuance of licenses to operators for four months, because there was not enough budget for the preparation of the fifth generation network. However, this month, the implementation of fifth-generation communication was prevented by a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Armed Forces.
And at the end of January 2023, it became known that drones of the BT company will distribute 5G Internet . A drone with a special antenna will be able to provide high-quality mobile Internet and communication coverage over an area of more than 15 km. So far, engineers are actively testing the antenna itself, which can split and direct beams in 500 directions.