Below The Day interviews Anatoly DOROVSKYKH, official representative of Matra Nortel Communications, about the possibility of setting up a mobile confidential communication system in Ukraine.
The Day: First, a few words about the firm you represent in Ukraine, if you please.
A. D.: Matra Nortel Communication [hereafter referred to as Matra - Ed.] is a subsidiary of the Lagardier Group and Norsen Telecom. Its basic line of business is professional mobile radio communication. The Lagardier Group is a company known the world over with a $36-37 billion annual turnover. It also comprises companies such as Aeropatience and Matra Marconi Space. Ukraine is showing quite some interest in both, because the former produces broad fuselage aircraft and the latter is the world’s third and Europe’s first satellite manufacturer. Matra’s radio communication systems are currently installed in 16 countries.
The Day: Ukraine could be the seventeenth. Is the contract signed between Matra and Ukrspetseksport now in effect?
A. D. : Regrettably not yet and there is only one thing holding it back. The contract stipulates setting up a credit line and this calls for the Cabinet’s Expert Currency Committee’s findings and Verkhovna Rada approval. And there are matters to be settled in France.
But this doesn’t mean that no work is being done under the contract (in fact, the document, along with appendices, numbers about 1,000 pages of printed text). I think that a lot has been done over six months from the date of the Cabinet resolution, involving experts from SBU, Defense Ministry, and various research centers. In the first place, a giant system project has been developed, embracing all of Ukraine.
I must say that the contract is quite complicated, for it means not only selling hi-tech equipment, but also arrangements for industrial cooperation, transferring know-how, and so on.
The Day: And the deadlines and involvement of Ukrainian enterprises?
A. D.: Getting the Matra system started is expected to take two and a half years. Manual and then mobile terminals will be assembled during the first year. This is very important, because terminals are the most expensive components of all the equipment. Basically, they will be produced by the Radioprylad Works in Zaporizhzhia. Kharkiv’s Proton, Ternopil’s Orion, and a number of other Ukrainian enterprises are planned for inclusion in the production cooperation program. The Ukrainian side will be responsible for setting up and running the system, meaning new jobs, of course.
The Day: Why was Matra so unanimously chosen when deciding on a mobile confidential radio communication system in Ukraine? Are the other systems worse? You will agree that a tender, if and when one were held, would have removed all the current obstacles.
A. D.: To begin with, it wasn’t chosen overnight or unanimously. It was a long process lasting a year and a half. Second, no advertised bidding is allowed with regard to mobile radio communications dealing with national defense. That’s what Ukrainian law says. A special coordinating was formed by the Cabinet, made up of representatives of all the interested ministries and agencies, and it worked for a year. From what I know, negotiations were held not only with Matra, but also with Motorola and Erikson. But only one producer could offer a complex approach: joint production, know-how, and credit line.
The Day: We know that Matra and Motorola use different standards. What is the difference between them?
A. D.: Matra uses TETRAPOL and its basic distinction is that it was originally developed as a system to accommodate military and security ministries and agencies, one that can be converted into a police network by installing new blocks and adding functions.
And I think that comparing both standards to determine which is better would be improper. Motorola’s TETRA standard seems best equipped for various “open” services and agencies. It is convenient, has a large transmission capacity, and so on. And TETRAPOL best answers the specific requirements of special services.
The Day: Hasn’t TETRAPOL become obsolete?
A. D.: It’s an evolving system and we have its second generation now. I should point out that Matra is the world’s only producer of such compact terminals with guaranteed data protection.
Also, I wish to stress that all talk about France refusing to apply TETRAPOL with regard to such military and security ministries and agencies is totally ungrounded. This is plain disinformation! There is a special department at the French Internal Affairs Ministry responsible for introducing this system in France.
The Day: There seems no avoiding one more Matra-Motorola comparison: the French radio station costs much more.
A. D.: Let me tell you here and now that the cost is not $2,500 as was previously stated. And I have seen different figures concerning Motorola. The State Communications Committee says it costs $500, but this does not include the cost of the closing system. Once you attach its blocks the price goes up considerably.
The Day: A Verkhovna Rada resolution recommends that the Cabinet repeal its Resolution On Establishing a National Confidential Mobile Radio Communication System. What do you think?
A. D.: That’s not economics but politics, stemming form the Parliament-Cabinet confrontation. It so happens that French investment gets to Ukraine the hard way (remember Lafarge?). Therefore, it is not surprising that over the eight years of Ukrainian independence the total amount of French investment ($15 million) could be regarded as purely symbolic.