Kyivstar works to re-connect Ukrainian cities

Kyivstar works to re-connect Ukrainian cities

19.03 Mariupol1.jpg

As many as 19 Ukrainian cities – each with a population of more than 10,000 people – are cut off from accessing mobile services provided by Kyivstar.

The Ukrainian telco told Capacity on Monday that is it working around the clock to keep networks online between attacks from Russian forces, but that power outages are preventing 10-13% of its sites from operating.

Technical director Vladimir Lutchenko said: "[These cities] are located either in the occupied territories or in the territories of ongoing shelling that complicates the access for our repair units. This number varies every day because our technical units use every `gap' between shelling to make repair works."

Capacity understands that Kyivstar is using diesel to overcome power shortages where it can, but the war has destroyed much of its infrastructure, with "many base stations ruined" and its Mariupol office "completely destroyed".

Lutchenko it isn't possible to restore connections in fully occupied territories, but he added the firm's network modernisation over recent years has made it possible to divert traffic using transient nodes in different Ukrainian cities as required.

He added: "It allows the operator to save the network functions and restore the services even if some of the infrastructure facilities are damaged. Starting in January 2022, we have done additional preparation works to increase our telecom network resilience. We reserved additional communication channels, deploy network capacity, backed up databases, and moved critical equipment and warehouses from the south and east to western Ukraine."

Kyivstar shared the following images with Capacity, which show the location of its former base stations in Kyiv and Mariupol, as well as the damage to its offices.

The images show: Kyivstar's former office in Mariupol; a destroyed base station in the village of Nitsaha, in the Sumy region; destroyed infrastructure in the village of Peresadivka; and IT infrastructure in Borodyanka.

Kyivstar's offices in Mariupol were destroyed by bombing on 19 March and Lutchenko confirmed fiber-optics and base stations have also been damaged across the country, causing further communication blackouts even when power is restored. "The losses will be estimated when our specialists can reach the damaged\lost sites and assets," he added.

Part of VEON, Kyivstar provides both fixed and mobile services alongside digital TV and counted 26 million mobile subscribers and one million fixed line customers.

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