SkyLink finally prepares for GSM launch

18 Dec 2009

Over two years after securing licences allowing it to roll out GSM-based networks, Russian cellco SkyLink has outlined its plans to deploy the 2G standard, Dow Jones Newswires reports. SkyLink, which previously operated exclusively across CDMA-based networks, won concessions covering 45 of Russia’s 83 regions in late-2007, but the company is yet to deploy GSM in these areas, risking the loss of those licences after the country’s communications watchdog claimed that it has failed to fulfil its licence conditions. SkyLink deputy CEO, Yuri Khromov, revealed that the company has now hired Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei Technologies to provide equipment and services for the rollout, giving the company some chance of achieving its target of installing GSM networks across most of Russia’s regions by 2011. Khromov added that SkyLink would collaborate with Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent to ensure that the new GSM base stations can easily be upgraded to 4G technology, in preparation for the time when Russia’s Communications Ministry gives approval for the next evolution of mobile broadband technology. SkyLink hopes that 4G licences will be awarded quickly, in contrast with the introduction of 3G which was licensed several years behind Europe. In the hope of speeding up the process, the company has requested clearance to set up a trial 4G network.