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Will there be mobile and internet service during new blackouts: Mobile operators explain

Will there be mobile and internet service during new blackouts: Mobile operators explain Mobile communication in Ukraine (Photo: Getty Images)

The past winter proved to be an exceedingly difficult period for Ukraine, as the country faced a series of massive attacks on its energy infrastructure by occupying forces. The entire nation grappled with widespread power outages and mobile network interruptions.

During the extensive infrastructure attacks of the past winter, which left numerous regions simultaneously without electricity, engineers worked tirelessly to deploy and activate mobile generators. These efforts encompassed tens of thousands of communication sites spread across the country.

As the possibility of new outages looms this fall, RBC-Ukraine reached out to the three major mobile operators to assess their readiness.

"The majority of subscribers will have reliable connectivity," the operators

The ongoing conflict has forced Ukrainian companies to be prepared for any potential challenges. Since the onset of terrorist attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, mobile operators have been diligently ensuring the continuous operation of their networks.

Lifecell, a prominent company in the sector, has been increasing the number of battery units and generators at their technological sites. This strategic move aims to address communication and mobile internet disruptions that occur when the lights go out, according to a statement from the company's press office provided to RBC-Ukraine.

"In just the past months, we have connected over 800 stationary, partner, and mobile generators capable of powering base stations without grid support. In preparation for potential blackouts, lifecell has also replaced thousands of batteries with newer, larger-capacity models capable of functioning for 4-5 hours without external power. We continue this work daily," the statement reads.

The company has equipped all key technological sites with generators, enabling them to maintain operations across a substantial portion of their network. It can be stated that Lifecell possesses alternative power sources for base stations, ensuring operational continuity for a significant part of their network in case of prolonged power loss.

However, whether mobile users will retain connectivity during extended power outages hinges on the duration of power loss and the geographical location of the subscriber, as revealed in response to the query.

Чи буде зв'язок та інтернет у разі нових блекаутів: що кажуть мобільні оператори

Photo: Mobile operators are increasing the number of battery packs and generators at technology sites (

"At Lifecell, there are over 9 thousand base stations throughout Ukraine. During prolonged outages of the stationary power supply across Ukraine, ensuring generator connections and fuel delivery to all locations simultaneously becomes a challenging task. As a result, the advantage of providing autonomous power will be given to switches and key technological hubs. This means that the operator's core network will remain operational, ensuring that the majority of subscribers will maintain connectivity," states the press service.

Backup power at base stations: Why it's necessary

Currently, more than 2,000 Kyivstar (another major mobile operator in Ukraine) technology hubs are equipped with stationary and portable diesel generators. This setup ensures that all critical base stations, switches, and essential telecom equipment have backup power, according to a statement from the company's press office.

In anticipation of potential new blackouts, the operator is fortifying its telecom network with diesel generators, long-duration batteries, and uninterruptible power sources.

"Furthermore, new long-duration battery systems have been installed at base stations, capable of functioning without external power for 4-6 hours. To date, we have deployed nearly 37 thousand of these batteries and continue this effort. Overall, the company has invested over 900 million hryvnias in energy independence," the press service noted.

Kyivstar aims to ensure that 70% of its fixed internet network ("Home Internet" service) is supplied by uninterruptible power sources by the end of this year. To achieve this, the company plans to install 50 thousand uninterruptible power supply units on the home internet network.

Чи буде зв'язок та інтернет у разі нових блекаутів: що кажуть мобільні оператори

Photo: Batteries at the operator's base stations can function for 4-6 hours after the power is cut off (RBC-Ukraine/Vitalii Nosach)

Why it's impossible to equip all stations with generators

Vodafone has equipped 100% of its sites with autonomous backup power. Typically, these batteries can sustain operation without primary power for 4-5 hours.

However, during widespread and frequent outages, these battery systems couldn't recharge in time and, due to constant undercharging, would lose a portion of their capacity. As a result, sometimes after a power loss, the base station would shut down much sooner, as explained by the company's press office.

"To ensure the operation of communication equipment, the company is deploying all available generators. Stationary diesel generators have been installed at network nodal sites. Mobile generator units are utilized to power the base stations," reveals Viktoria Ruban, PR Director of Vodafone Ukraine, to RBC-Ukraine.

Drawing on their experience, Vodafone has acquired hundreds of additional generators. The company has engaged 1120 diesel generator units and continues preparations for the upcoming winter.

"Clearly, providing generators for all sites is impractical: even with an ample number of generators, no operator could individually deliver, refuel, and secure a generator for each site in a timely manner," Viktoria notes.

Mobile generators cannot be installed everywhere; many communication objects are situated on rooftops, making delivery and installation impossible. Therefore, engineers are devising network operation scenarios during planned power outages, aiming to maintain coverage availability with significantly fewer base stations.

Чи буде зв'язок та інтернет у разі нових блекаутів: що кажуть мобільні операториPhoto: The operator's backbone network will function, ensuring most subscribers will have connectivity, operators promise (

Vodafone is also seeking partners with robust industrial generators whose base stations are already equipped with them. This initiative aims to swiftly transition base stations to these generators when needed.

"We are reaching out to owners of infrastructure sites where mobile operator equipment and stationary generators with available capacities of 5-7 kW are installed, proposing cooperation to support mobile communication during external power absence. This will help everyone stay connected," emphasized the representative from Vodafone Ukraine.