Communications in Ukraine to be stable under almost any conditions

Suppose the Russian Federation decides to conduct a full-scale invasion into Ukraine. One of the critical things is the availability of communications: its absence is one of the biggest fears of the civil population. However, the telecommunication providers assure that the connection will not fail. Communications in Ukraine will be stable almost under any conditions. But how will it work in case of Russia’s military aggression, sabotage, and cyberattacks? AIN.Capital asked Ukrainian telecom providers about that.

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  • There is no reason for panic. Even in the event of force majeure and an act of war, the connection won’t disappear in Ukraine.
  • Telecom providers are ready to maintain their networks under different conditions — power shortage, network damage, cyberattack, etc.
  • The service providers have experience of rapid recovery of the hardware in settlements close to the front, during emergencies, etc.

How reliable is the mobile network?

By answering the question above, all three big telecom companies — Kyivstar, Vodafone Ukraine, and lifecell — confirmed their understanding of the mobile services role for people, businesses, and the country in general. Now the companies have experience working under challenging conditions (natural catastrophes, hardware damage, cyberattacks). So they work on securing the connection if there will be an escalation, even in terms of a power shortage.

Network flexibility

Kyivstar representatives say that modern networks can change traffic routes by switching transit hubs in many Ukrainian cities. In doing so, they will secure the connection availability in case of any damage.

Vodafone Ukraine assured they know how to work during the pandemic, a lockdown, unstable power supply, and other critical issues. The infrastructure was built to provide reserve lines for emergencies if any:

“We have backup utilities and data transfer channels inside and outside Ukraine. If one malfunction, the other will support the connection at the level we need.”

A similar way of function has the lifecell network:

“Data centers and main subsystems of the network were built to keep network core reserves, data transfer channels, Internet hotspots, etc. The telecom provider is able to keep the hardware functionality even in the case of power shortages by applying diesel generators.

If needed, the company will use backup equipment and reserve data transfer channels to keep the network afloat. lifecell has facilities in many regions of Ukraine. If it is disabled in some regions, other regions can undertake its function.”

Also, the telecommunication companies can secure the connection with reserve routes and backup hardware even in case of power shortages and damages of cables, cellular radio towers, antennas, or other equipment.

Network security

Several providers confirmed AIN.Capital that their telecom networks are guarded. For example, Kyivstar has its own 24/7 security department and contracts with external security organizations. Vodafone Ukraine reinforced their armed guards at critical infrastructure points, including the security police.

Cyber threats

After the escalation started, there were two attacks against Ukrainian banks and authorities. They seem to be connected with the intelligence of the Russian Federation. According to CERT-UA, new targets can be attacked on February 22. Telecommunications are vital for our nation, especially today, so the telecom providers prepare themselves for possible cyber threats.

“However, we did a lot to strengthen our external and internal perimeters for possible cyberattacks. We did several checks to detect vulnerable places and risks at informational systems and conducted penetration tests. We purchased additional cybersecurity hardware,” Vodafone Ukraine reps said. Other big telecom companies do the same and monitor potential threats.

In addition, they have consultations with authorities, particularly with the Informational Security Counterintelligence Department of the Security Service of Ukraine.

How reliable are the landlines?

Ukrtelecom emphasized the higher reliability of fixed lines and fiber Internet than in the case of mobile networks because first, the cables must be damaged to interrupt their work. However, the radio waves can be jammed at any time.

Another thing is that city fixed-lines and fiber-optic communications lay underground. They are connected with houses through basements. So, the risk of destroying such equipment is lower than for a tower, for example. However, even if there is no risk of war, it can be just stolen or injured to get valuable copper cable or for other reasons.

“A telephone can work even if there is no power in the house (in the case of a non-cordless phone) because the power is supplied from a central office with backup utilities for the case of an emergency power-off.

The fiber-optic Internet can’t be affected by electronic warfare. If a user has an alternative power source for the router and a provider can keep the operation of network hubs, the connection won’t fail (gigabit-capable passive optical network).

The company has a well-functioning telecom and digital optic-fiber line backup system. In the case fixed lines get damaged, the calls are forwarded to alternative phone numbers, or the system switches to a convergent network which is a combination of wired and wireless connection,” Ukrtelecom reps explained.

Nevertheless, some fiber-optic Internet providers connect the houses to the network with roof cables (a cable web on the roof can be damaged). In the countryside, transmission towers often carry fiber-optic lines.

Ukrtelecom summarized that the combination of fixed lines and cellular network with the fiber-optic Internet is stable.

Finally, according to the Martial Law Legal Regulation Bill, in the event of martial law activation, the State Service for Special Telecommunication and Data Protection of Ukraine can establish a special operation mode. Then the National Center of Operative and Technical Network Management will manage the networks.