Central regions | Telecoms, media | Technology & innovation

LTE tenders to take place in one month, Sochi to get LTE for 2014 Winter Olympics

30 Mar '12
East-West Digital News, an international resource on Russian IT and innovation, reported earlier this week that since Scartel, a leading Russian WiMax provider operating under the Yota brand, launched Russia’s first LTE network in Novosibirsk in January, new initiatives have confirmed that 4G is on its way towards covering large portions of the Russian Federation.

Roskomnadzor, the state telecom regulator, announced yesterday that the tenders to allocate the remaining LTE frequencies across Russia will take place in approximately one month. These tenders were to have been organized no later than Feb. 1, 2012, but were blocked by an unresolved issue involving AFK Sistema, a leading Russian financial corporation whose two subsidiaries, MTS and Kosmos TV, were slated to exchange their frequencies in the 2500-2700 MHz range in Moscow for a narrower frequency band suited for LTE.

The State Commission on Radio Frequencies (SCRF) has now approved the payment of compensation to AFK Sistema, lifting the last obstacle to organizing the tenders. The amount of compensation remains unknown, but AFK Sistema had previously estimated a sum of around 1.5 billion rubles (approximately $50 million). The compensation will be assessed from the winners of the LTE frequencies in Moscow.

Earlier this month, SCRF also allowed Megafon, a leading Russian mobile operator, and Rostelecom, the national telecom operator, to deploy multiband LTE in the region of Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The frequencies – in the 790–862 MHz, 2,300–2,400 MHz and 2,500–2,690 MHz ranges – will be used jointly by the two companies, which appear set to be the main telecom sponsors of the Games.

SCRF also announced that further frequencies in the 1,800 MHz range would be made available for LTE deployment, reported ComNews.ru, an online publication covering the Russian telecom and IT industries. Previously used by WiMAX networks, this modest band of 19.4 MHz could be employed by such regional operators as Tele2 Russia or the Samara-based SMARTS. Tele2 Russia, the Russian subsidiary of a Swedish-based European telecommunications group, has repeatedly stated that 5 MHz band is enough for initial LTE deployment.

In a separate move, Tele2 Russia has started testing the combination of LTE and GSM in the same band in the 1800 MHz frequency range, reported ICT Online, another specialized publication. The results of these tests, conducted in Omsk, Siberia, must be presented to SCRF in the second quarter of 2012. Last year Tele2 Russia failed to join Soyuz LTE, the consortium of Russian telecom operators formed to investigate the conditions of LTE deployment in Russia.

Earlier this week the attention of telecom equipment suppliers was drawn by Osnova Telecom, a subsidiary of the Russian Defense Ministry which recently received a license to develop a TD-LTE military network in the 2,300-2,400 MHz frequency range. The company’s tenders for infrastructure equipment will be organized in the near future to ensure network deployment in up to seven mid-sized cities of Russia’s European territory, a company shareholder told the Russian business daily Vedomosti.
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