Russia completes LTE tender
Russia’s 4G tender has been completed with operators MTS, VimpelCom, MegaFon and Rostelecom awarded licences.
Roskomnadzor, the country’s telecoms regulator, awarded the licences for free, and the winners are now expected to provide LTE services.
Operators which didn’t win licences include: Nordic operator Tele2; TTK, the telecoms unit of Russian Railways; and Summa Telecom, part of Summa Capital.
All licence winners must start providing LTE services no later than June 1 2013 and invest at least RUR 15 billion ($458 million) annually until their LTE network is completed. The final deadline for operators to provide full network coverage is 2019.
“We have already commenced modernising our network and making it LTE-compatible. We are looking forward to offering up-to-date and customised services with high-speed internet access to our customers on cutting-edge 4G technology. We strongly believe that they will enjoy their LTE mobile web experience, contributing to the growing popularity of mobile data services and thus advancing the state objective of country-wide internet coverage,” said Anton Kudryashow, CEO of OJSC VimpelCom.
MegaFon is seen as having an advantage in the deployment as it began providing LTE services in Moscow in May in an MVNO agreement with Scartel. Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who owns a 50% controlling stake in MegaFon, has reportedly completed an operational merger of his stake with Scartel and intends to form a holding company.
MegaFon provides LTE services to 10% of the 140 million Russian population but pledged on Thursday to increase this footprint to 27% by the end of 2012.
VimpelCom said that it would provide services in six regions by the end of 2013, 30 by the end of 2016 and full coverage by the end of 2019.
MTS said that it plans to build its 4G networks ahead of schedule and is preparing for a Moscow launch in August/September with previously acquired frequencies.
Rostelecom said that it would start providing LTE services in September through an MVNO agreement with Scartel and that it was ready to team up with other operators to speed up the network roll-out and reduce costs.