According to Belarus' Information Technologies and Communications Minister Nikolai Pantelei is quoted as saying that commercial 3G mobile licences could be offered by September 2009 at the earliest. Speaking during an online conference hosted by the BelTA website, Pantelei said that documents for the 3G tender had been produced and that pending the necessary checks and approvals, licence winners would receive the rights to offer UMTS services in the third quarter of 2009. TeleGeography's GlobalComms database reports that under its telecoms development programme for 2006-2010, the government of Belarus stressed its desire to auction licences for 3G mobile services. Frequency bands 1885MHz-2025MHz and 2110MHz-2200MHz have been allocated for UMTS, and some official sources previously suggested they would be offered via a competitive tender. In July 2008 a departmental chief at the regulator, Henadz Tsaryk, said the government was ready to begin accepting bids for licences to offer 3G mobile services. He added that bids would be welcomed both from incumbent operators and market entrants, with Tsaryk noting that the launch of 3G networks would ultimately depend on the pace of the allocation of frequencies. At that date the regulator was hoping to consider bids for third-generation network licences before 1 December 2008. The nation's two leading GSM operators, Velcom and MTS, have already announced plans to bid for a 3G licence. It is understood that Belarus now intends to make 3G frequencies available initially in Minsk and its environs. There are reportedly plans to allocate three 5MHz bands.
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