In late August, the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA) released a statement that Finland and Russia reached agreement on the use of the 800 MHz band. The agreement reached in Moscow will permit Finland to implement new mobile networks consistent with EU developments on refarming the band from current broadcast use. The Finnish Ministry of Transportation and Communications also announced on August 29 that "as a result, the timetable for the uptake of new generation mobile networks is sped up by several years."

According to Ficora's August 31 statement, Finland and Russia have discussed the use of the band at the border area for several years. Russia uses the band for aeronautical radio navigation systems. Western European countries, however, have agreed to move broadcasters using the band in order to free up more spectrum for mobile networks, as the "digital dividend."

This agreement is important, because the lack of an agreement posed an obstacle to the European Union digital dividend planning. The European Commission even has offered to help in such discussions, and a proposed plank of the pending Radio Spectrum Policy Program (RSPP) would expand Commission competence to engage in international negotiations.

Russia will continue to operate radio navigation systems, but technical restrictions in the deal apparently will prevent harmful interference. Ficora says that the new agreement permits it to authorize operation of a "comprehensive cellular network" using the 800 MHz spectrum 55 km from the Russian border. Some base stations also can be built as close as 12 kilometers from the border and network customers can use their terminal equipment up to 4 kilometers from the border.

The deal kicks in quickly. Ficora says that regulators have already agreed on testing of mobile networks at 800 MHz, and it has granted the first radio license for testing third generation mobile networks (LTE) in early July 2012. Government sources say that the Ministry already has started drafting a policy resolution on how permanent licenses are to be granted to use this band.

Ficora earlier this year worked out an agreement with Russia on the use of the 900 MHz band for mobile services, according to its announcement in June. These results can be models for future cross-border agreements.